This has been a really interesting political season. I'll be the first to admit I am enjoying watching the process unfold. All of the plot twists are better than any night-time drama; furthermore this has given me plenty of opportunities to teach my 8-year-old son real life lessons.
Last summer I intentionally sat down and watched this video on my tablet and started laughing. After a while my son stops playing with his trains and sits by me to see why I was so amused.
He looks at the video, confused and asked me, "what's so funny?"
My set-up is successful! I now opened the door to teach my kid a new word: Plagiarism.
Plagiarism (explained to a 8-year-old child:) is stealing someone’s words, and pretending they are your own. It is not only dishonest; you can get in a lot of trouble with your teachers.
"Words belong to people?" My son asked. Using the word "stole" really grabbed his attention.
"Yes," I explained. "See this picture you worked hard on?" I pointed to his picture of a train he painted that was on the fridge. "How would you like it if I erased your name and put mine on, then told everyone I painted the picture?"
My son was incredulous. "BUT THAT'S CHEATING!" he shouted. "I worked hard on that."
'Yea," I replied. "You should be upset if I did that. That is your picture you made all by yourself. I can't just steal it. You can't do that with words either. If someone wrote a song first, or a speech first, or a paper first, you can't just copy it and put your name on it. Okay?"
"Okay!" he exclaimed shaking his head." I won't do that."
"Hey buddy", I followed up, "Here is the thing, if you want to use someone's words that’s ok. You just have to give them credit for it. "
"Huh?" Now he is seriously confused.
"Let's pretend I take your picture off the fridge and put it in a pretty frame and hang it in the living room."
" Every time someone comes over the house admires your picture I say, Jason made it. "
"So I'm using your picture to make my living room pretty, but I am not pretending the picture is something I made myself."
"That’s good, cause that's cheating," he replies.
"Exactly, you can do the same thing with words. You can use someone else’s words to make your words better, and when you give them credit it's called "quoting".
"Ohhh..." the little light bulb of understanding awakens in him. "Don't cheat, just quote."
I'm proud of that boy.
Long blog post short; don't cheat on your homework this year. If you want to borrow someone else's words when completing your assignments that is ok. You just have to give them credit for it. Ask me or any other librarian how to do it. We will be happy to help you.