Our web conference last week -- especially our considerable discussion about plagiarism -- sure got me thinking. Coincidentally, I am working on a project for the International Dept. at our college, developing a list of educational activities for faculty who wish to develop their intercultural competence. A key developmental model we are using as a foundation is Milton Bennett's Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, which coaxes us to look at our intercultural understanding as being somewhere on the scale from ethnocentric to ethnorelative. (If you want to know more, this is interesting.)
Anyway, I really got to thinking about how our discussion about plagiarism probably includes both ethnocentric & ethnorelative worldviews. I like Sylvia's opening statement for this thread, about how the plagiarism video is about "I think it's so important to identify the milieu in which we work as an academic culture. Within this culture, plagiarism is often considered to be 'stealing' the ideas of others & such acts are treated as if ethically & morally wrong. While I don't think it's right to purposefully pretend that you created a unique work when in fact it was mostly 'borrowed' without citation, 'plagiarism' is often more vague than that & the grey area gets pretty big pretty fast. It's just different in different cultures, & for those of us who are immersed in Canadian academic culture, I think it's really worthwhile to work towards a more ethnorelative view.
This is really what the motivation for producing the films was all about- to encourage us to question the lens from which we decide how our educational practice looks from others' views. And to question/wonder whether we can sustain the current culture of academic 'integrity' in our institutions. Can we learn from other cultures? What keeps us from considering or adopting other views?
Bennett's work, we have found, has been useful in providing a springboard for reflecting on where one is on the intercultural sensitivity continuum. Kyra and I have also administered the IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory) to about 40 faculty, staff and students at TRU (the cohort we worked with for Internationalizing Curriculum was an interesting start- although there is momentum to internationalizse, the 'readiness' to do this beyond adding on was not necessarily a given. I've since learned that the IDI and 3 day workshops were transfomative for some) . In my own case, it provided a 'starting' place that I could then identify what I needed to do to increase cultural awareness and begin my own shifts. It's exciting to know that you are using Bennett as well.
I'd like to invite others to respond or build on to any of the questions from the first session that Sylvia has provided, or let us know how you are taking in the other videos. As well, the student video may provide some insights- Sylvia where is that piece?
I agree that it is worthwhile to move to a more ethnorelative view, especially in higher education which is rapidly becoming a more international, intercultural environment. Hence our motivation to create the film scenarios: a springboard for dialogue and exchange of best or innovative practices.
The plagiarism / academic integrity piece is really interesting. It tends to evoke emotional responses, particularly from Western educators :) There is a growing number of scholars who are questioning the academy's rigorous defense of our rules and what is considered acceptable academic use of English. Indeed, Englishes is now considered in the plural form. Scholars and students all over the world are using English in ways that might not fit the paradigm we hold so dear, add to that the increasingly contested notion of ownership in the technological age, as well as the uncomfortable questions being raised in terms of not only ethnocentrism, but charges of post-colonialism within international education.
Perhaps we demand that academic writing adheres to Western standards because we are truly convinced that it is the only correct model where others are indeed deficient. It is interesting that we are able to make this claim knowing so little about other rhetorical models and academic discourses, isn't it?
Just a few heavy thoughts on this fine morning :)
Hopefully, you will have a chance to check out some of the resources we posted along with the films on the SoLR site, some of them expand on the above notions (I have more if you are really interested!)
Ah, and yet a THIRD reference that I can't locate! I remember reading an old Frontier College publication, written to help prepare itinerant educators to work with disenfrancised adult learners. The text advised educators to remember "there is no 'right' English. All dialects are created equal." Of course, academic writing (any writing, really) needs to be clear, understandable... but good English is also not a moral issue!
A long post, sorry
Gina, your post about the creativity reminded me of when I taught visual arts to middle school (gr 6-8) students. The Asians were amazed at the ideas the Canadians had (freedom to play) and the Canadians were astounded by the skill of the Asians (attention to quality). It was transformative to see them learn from each other because they were open to incorporating the different approaches. So, the 'creativity' didn't need to wait for adulthood :)
Does anyone else have some first hand stories to share about engaging in and valuing different perspectives? I believe it was Pat Pattison during the live session that questioned our questioning around plagiarism and invited us to consider why we think that way. ( If I"ve misquoted, please let me know!!)