Saturday, March 07, 2009

Fait mes devoirs...

A new French internet site was launched on Thursday called On Friday, the site shut down, but may be re-opening on Monday. What's all the fuss about?

Basically, a 25-year old graduate, Stéphane Boukris, had the idea of creating a site where students could come with their homework they were having difficulty doing, and for a fee and with a delay of around 24-72 hours, the site's 'experts' would come back to them with the correct answers. From around 5 euros students could get math questions answered, and for around 80 euros they could get whole essays produced for them.

The site's launch has been the center of a media circus, with parents, professors and the ministry of education up in arms about the whole idea of the thing. From articles in the national press, to a spot on national television, the buzz around the site has been busy. So it's a bit strange that the site's owner has waited until the day after the launch to close the site and post a message saying he now believes the site goes against his own values.

Not sure how I feel about the basic premise of the site. Obviously it can be called cheating and the 'helpfulness' of the 'service' rendered to the students is slightly questionable. But let's face it, this wouldn't be the first time homework would be handed in that hadn't been done by the right student. I'm sure there would have been times back in high school where I might have considered using such a service (particularly for Trigonometry, because even though I did my homework myself, got most of it wrong, I'm still none the wiser on the subject). But then I guess that's why we befriend someone a little bit smarter than us in high school; to offer this service for free.

Of course I understand that what this site is saying to kids is that if you can pay, you can buy just about anything, but honestly, I'm not sure this would be an incredibly new concept for them. We aren't talking about the high school world that I lived in (god, makes me sound ancient!). Kids these days have cell phones, laptops, ipods, chat room nicknames and facebook followings. They can illegally download music and films, do their book reports just by reading the Amazon book reviews, and get all the information they need for an essay by using Wikipedia.

Is the notion of students being able to pay online for someone to do their homework really that outrageous considering everything else they can do these days? Isn't it a bit late to be getting up on our anti-consumerism soapboxes? Afterall, all this site is doing is providing a service for a market...


Dedene said...

I saw this too. I figured, as you said, that kids could find just about any information free of charge on Internet, so why not? The PDG of the website said that they provided learning tips along with the homework.
I would've done the same thing for my math classes!

Jennie said...

I agree. It's not that outrageous or anything considering what kids can do these days. (I feel old too compared to teenagers today...) I don't see anything wrong with getting help on your homework before you turn it in. How is that different from asking your parents/friends/tutors for help? Students shouldn't be graded on their effort for just doing the homework anyway; they need to be graded on if they actually learned the material or not.

Melissaand3boys said...

Personally I have no problem with getting help on homework, if it's like a tutor, who could walk someone through the steps of solving the problem. That would be an awesome service to have. And really if someone wants to buy the answers it's not as if they can't already do so and I wouldn't do anything to prevent a site like this.

However I think it's okay to struggle through a subject. Not everything will come easily and that's a good lesson to learn.

I know I'm old fashioned, but just because people can do things like illegally download music and ideas doesn't make it right. It's stealing and I think it's a good idea to know that. I worry that perpetuating the idea that it's okay to cheat in this way will just make the hole we've dug for our societies just that much deeper.