So I accidentally plagiarized in college

It wasn't even a hard essay.

I just forgot to cite some examples.

Psychologist, Dan Gilbert, describes this as kleptomnesia, an "accidental plagiarism or belief that an idea you generate is your own when in fact it was someone else's".

It's unfortunate, but humans make mistakes every once in a while. Believing that you came up with someone else's idea is one of those mistakes we make, especially when we are younger.

I was most likely too distracted when I wrote my essays.

I was most likely too distracted when I wrote my essays.

The thing is, "accidental plagiarism" was always talked about by teachers either as if it didn't exist or if it did exist: it was a bad, bad thing to do.

Look, I get it: stealing people's ideas and taking credit for them is not fair to the creator.

It's a terrible thing if done purposefully.

But let's not treat plagiarizing on one 500-word school essay as if it's some major crime.

The way it's talked about in school makes it seem like it's an offense worth stoning someone for.

The shame surrounding plagiarism is overblown in the academic community. That plagiarism is such a problem only exacerbates why the academic reward system is so flawed. The wrong things are encouraged due to grades.

Writing for the academic world encourages 3 things:

  • Being as verbose as possible to come off as complicated and intelligent
  • Writing for the approval of a master and not for the joy of writing for oneself
  • Any means possible to get the highest grade

That's what happens when you write for a grade, and not for yourself or an audience.

I developed a deep disdain for plagiarism only once I became a creator of ideas. That was the most powerful reinforcer of integrity I could ever experience; not writing to regurgitate in school.

I hypothesize that one reason why we never learn empathy in school is because we never are writers, mathematicians, business owners, or engineers; we simply learn about being them. This is great for knowing, but terrible for understanding what it feels like to actually live in the shoes of these people.

While this method is great for learning and understanding how to be a teacher, it is terrible for learning how to be just about anything else.

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Do you agree with me? If not, why do you think I'm wrong? Write down in the comments below. I reply to every comment.