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Mother Will Tell You In Her Own Words

| Learning | June 2, 2015

(It’s my first year in honours courses, and as it turns out, it’s my English teacher’s first time teaching honours. Everything goes smoothly until [Student] and I have to co-write an essay on the parallels between the USSR and George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ We each do our half, hand in the result on time, and go on our merry ways. Next class, this happens:)

Teacher: “[My Name], I need to talk to you after class.”

Me: “Uh, okay.”

(After class…)

Teacher: “[My Name], I’m disappointed in you. Plagiarism is a serious offence. You’re normally a good student, so I’ll let you off easily: you just have to redo the assignment.”

Me: “Plagiarism? What do you mean?”

Teacher: “That essay you turned in was well beyond the capabilities of a Grade 10 student.”

Me: “This is the honours class!”

Teacher: “Still, there are limits to what a 15-year-old can do.”

Me: “Would you prefer me to limit my vocabulary to that which you’d expect from a 15-year-old?”

Teacher: “No!” *pause* “Umm, just look me in the eye and promise me you did your half yourself.”

Me: *looking her in the eye* “I promise you I did my half myself. I cannot speak on [Student]’s behalf, because we each did our part at home, but I didn’t cheat.”

(She let me go at that and I continued on my merry way for the rest of the day until I got home and my mum asked what had happened at school that day, as always. The run-in with [Teacher] being by far the most interesting, I told her about that. Now, my mum is terrifying on the warpath. She doesn’t hit, scream, throw things, or anything else like that: she is just nebulously yet definitely terrifying and is, in fact, a large part of why I’m an honours student. I only felt a tiny bit guilty about accidentally unleashing that on [Teacher]. Among other things, my mum dug up the phone numbers for all my previous schools right back to kindergarten, rattled off the names of all my teachers, and dared [Teacher] to phone them. [Teacher] never questioned whether I’d done my own work again.)

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