The Principal and the Idiot Plagiarist

Two weeks ago, Professor Shelley Keating from the University of Advancing Technology, asked me if I could or have done a comedy post on plagiarism. Specifically, she wanted something that could be used to sway students away from plagiarism beyond just the typical fearmongering.

Never one to back down from a challenge, I put out a tweet to see if other readers were interested and instantly got a great deal of positive feedback on the idea. So, I set about doing something.

What I eventually settled upon was a script for a short video, detailing an exchange between a school principal and a less-than-brilliant student. Using Xtranormal, I converted my rough script into an animated video. The editing isn’t the best and minor changes had to be made due to the limitations of Xtranormal, but it gives you an idea.

For the record, all of the plagiarisms listed are based on actual acts of Wikipedia vandalism. You can read about some of them here.

My goal isn’t to pick on Wikipedia, but on the mentality of some students that you can blindly copy/paste from it and turn it in, both ignoring the plagiarism factor and failing to sanity-check what’s inside.

The Video is below:


Now the Fun Part

I’m the first to admit that this kind of comedy writing is not my forte and both the video and the script, pasted below, are intended to be a rough draft. So, I’m asking you for your help in making this better.

This script is licensed under my usual CC-BY-SA license. I’d like to see how others would improve it, especially those with more experience. (Note: The licensing of the video is more complex as it uses Xtranormal’s artwork.)

All that I ask, more as a personal request, is that you drop me a line of any new creations made using this script so I can link to them and reference them. If others do make new versions of this, I think it would be neat to compare and contrast.

I hope you enjoyed it!

The Script

Principal: Hello Charles, thank you for coming, I want to talk to you.
Charles: No problem Principal Brown, what can I do for you?
P: Well, your teachers have had some concerns about the papers you’ve been turning in.
C: What’s wrong?
P: Well, frankly, we have reason to believe that you’ve been plagiarizing some of your work.
C: (aghast) Me? I would NEVER do anything like that.
P: Well, maybe you can explain a few finer points to me. I have a few questions about your work then.
C: Sure, ask me anything.
P: Ok, remember that essay you were asked to do for biology last month? The one on tadpoles?
C: I do indeed, tough essay.
P: That it was, but you said here that, and I quote, “”The common tadpole also known as a pollywog, is in fact not from frog eggs, but from goose poop,” you then go on to describe how the tadpole likes to sing but do so at a frequency higher than what humans can hear.
C: But who doesn’t love to sing?
P: Everyone loves to sing but tadpoles can’t sing.
C: Why not?
P: They don’t have mouths for one. But even if they did they wouldn’t know how, being a mere larva and not one made from goose poop.
C: But I read all of this from a reliable source.
P: What is that source, you didn’t cite it.
C: Uhhh, the Internet.
P: Really now. Ok, well then, what about your recent paper for history on the Russian revolution?
C: What about it?
P: Well, you got most of the facts correct but then you went on to say that, and I quote, “Many franks and nobles however in light of the destruction developed the process of making ice cream and later made millions of shillings.”
C: And what’s wrong with that? Do you have something against ice cream?
P: I don’t have anything against ice cream but that doesn’t even make sense. Furthermore shillings are British currency, not Russian.
C: Uh, easy mistake?
P: For you perhaps, but that isn’t the worst one. Remember when your English teacher asked you to do a profile on an famous British citizen?
C: Absolutely. Why?
P: Well, you chose Lain Lee, correct?
C: Of course, a fine actor.
P: He’s a comedian you dolt.
C: Oh…
P: Your essay about him consisted of just one sentence where you said he was previously, and I quote, “a horse on roller-skates.”
C: Well, I was speaking metaphorically, you see.
P: Oh? And what was the metaphor?
C: Uhhh… That he was ugly and unbalanced.
P: Now that’s not very nice nor is it true. For one I’d say he’s done a bit more than you in terms of originality.
C: No what do you mean by that?
P: Listen, Charles, we know that you just copied all of this from Wikipedia. Worst of all, you didn’t even read any of it.
C: And what proof do you have of that?
P: The fact almost every essay you’ve turned in is word for word a Wikipedia entry.
C: Oh, and… that’s bad?
P: Well, for one, many of your essays have been wrong but even worse it’s plagiarism.
C: Plagiarism?
P: Yes, plagiarism, you know, taking credit for the work of others.
C: That’s not true at all! I did lots of work on those essays.
P: Typing in a search into Google does not count as work Charles.
C: Oh.
P: Neither does copying and pasting an article from Wikipedia.
C: I had to format it. That’s work!
P: At this point I think you expect extra credit for breathing?
C: Why, is someone offering it?
P: *sigh* Listen, Charles, haven’t you wondered why your grades have been so low? You’re just one more F away from getting the first negative GPA in the history of GPAs.
C: I thought that was a good thing.
P: Excuse me?
C: You know, like golf, the lowest score wins.
P: *facepalm* Charles, I should expel you for cheating but I’m afraid the outside world would just send you back.
C: So, what are you going to do?
P: Well, I’m going to give you this (hands Charles a sheet of paper)
C: (looking at the paper) It’s an application for McDonald’s.
P: Fill it out and turn it in, if they hire you, maybe you’ll learn what it means to do your own work for a change.
C: Then you’ll consider letting me stay?
P: Maybe.
C: Sweet, I know a great site on the Web where I can download resumes!
P: (headdesk)

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