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A Teacher Asking Students To Destroy Notes? 931

zwei2stein writes "I found this question with far-reaching implications in the off-topic section of a forum I frequent: 'My economics teacher is forcing us to give up all of our work for the semester. Every page of notes and paper must be turned over to her to be destroyed to prevent future students from copying it. My binder was in my backpack, and she went into my backpack to take it. Is that legal?' Besides the issue with private property invasion, which was the trigger of that post, there is much more important question: Can a teacher ask a student not to retain knowledge? How does IP law relate to teaching and sharing knowledge? Whose property are those notes?"
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A Teacher Asking Students To Destroy Notes?

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  • Re:Easy solutions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AchiIIe ( 974900 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:21AM (#26586151)

    Also here's the original posting
    > []
    The original poster says this is High School.

  • IANAL, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:23AM (#26586165) Homepage

    ... back in my undergrad days I had an issue with a professor who tried to pull his own stunts, even trying to call me out (while claiming to not know who he was calling out) publically in class. After a conversation with couple of lawyers and a few folks at the university after making a complaint of harassment (me being a white male who at the time was in his early 20's) and which at one point resulting in the university president calling me on my cell personally, it was decided that given the professors work was a paid for by the university, they had effectively no rights to it... so my copious note taking, and eventual whole scale recording of classes what perfectly legitimate and up to the university... and not the individual professor who was being paid to perform for the classes behalf.

    As sad as I am to say it... a tape recorder, obvious or not (ideally obvious be it in public or private) can be your best friend... though in my case I also had a laptop recording everything as well.

    Let me give you the advice I was given when I was dealing with an overzealous professor who thought they were god in the classroom and eventually was threatening to sue me and the school... talk to a lawyer.

    Remember though... I am not a lawyer, I've just talked to a few over this issue and think you should to.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:38AM (#26586253) Homepage

    Ask a lawyer, it could prove interesting. If the lawyer smells a chance of winning a case it may be even more interesting.

    But this means that you shall always have a backup of your work. A copying machine will do fine!

  • Re:IANAL, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theheadlessrabbit ( 1022587 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:42AM (#26586285) Homepage Journal

    i would like to add to this that in many countries, it is illegal to record audio (but not images) of someone without their permission. if you don't have the professor's permission to record the class, you could be in some legal trouble if you are caught.

    note: this didn't stop me from making recordings of several of my courses.

    I've archived every single note from every class, and even now, 3 years later, i will review a random class from time to time to keep it fresh in my mind.

    your written notes are yours, and yours alone.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:55AM (#26586365)
    This is a weird situation (in the case of a public University) because arguably most of the money for the lecture comes from the public... but it is not a public forum. The University has the right to restrict the lecture to students who have paid tuition.

    However, if you are a student, and you have paid tuition, you have every right to all materials that are presented in that lecture.

    My University (after some legal wrangling) recognized this and thereafter allowed the Student Body Association to record (on paper) and sell "official" lecture notes for recurring lectures, and in fact found it to be a valuable educational tool for those who could not take good notes, or could not keep up due to language or coordination problems, etc.

    Everybody benefited as a result.

    Study is study. Lecture notes do not help people "cheat", except in the sense that they might not have to physically be present at the lecture in order to benefit from them. They still have to read the notes and learn the material. Heck... that's what televised lectures are all about anyway!
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:05AM (#26586407)
    (A) Let me know when high schools start having fraternities. The origin of this story was a high school student. But regardless, in the case of colleges:

    (B) Frats and so on have been building up files on her class for years already, and will continue to do so. My University found that it was pointless to fight this and allowed the Student Body Association to print and sell copies of "official" lecture notes, approved by the professors, for recurring lectures. As it turned out, it was a very positive thing and everybody benefitted except those who were too poor to spend $10 for a semester's worth of notes.

    (C) Yes, self-taken notes belong to the writer.

    (D) This is a matter of legal rights, not University rules, so whether the professor is tenured or not is irrelevant. Lawyers and police can nail a tenured professor for theft and invasion as easily as one with no tenure.

    (E) "Don't file a police report", my ass. If somebody steals my property, I am going to report it. Again, this is not a matter of rules, it is a matter of the law. The more illegal activities you allow someone to get away with, the more they begin to feel they have the right to do it.
  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:09AM (#26586433) Homepage Journal

    "Don't file a police report."

    Are you fucking kidding me? Did YOU pay for that notebook? No? Then I'm filing that police report, and I'm having your ass arrested for THEFT OF PROPERTY. Ripping the notes from my paid-for notebook will result in a willful damage and vandalism charge or two being put on you as well. Let's see how high and mighty you are after spending some time in jail, not to mention what that would immediately do to your career as a teacher in any capacity.

    Don't file a police report, my ass. Nobody's going to take you seriously until one gets filed. Not the media, who need something to latch onto. Not the Dean, who probably wouldn't care until an arrest actually happened, which means a judge saw a reason to have the teacher jailed.

    As for a class so unimportant you wouldn't want to keep your notes? Keynesian economics.

  • by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:25AM (#26586511)

    Until I realized that things would work smoother for myself if I just assumed I lived in a tyranny and I'd have to work hard to be able to escape it as soon as possible.

    This is probably really good advice, as cynical as it is. The truth of the matter is, freedom is one dead dog.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Wooden Badger ( 540258 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:49AM (#26586627) Homepage Journal

    To up the ante on this, if you put a "C" with a circle around it, you have in essence given it a copyright. You own the rights to them.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:08AM (#26586711)

    This is not what I said, if you read my post. But they usually get very defensive when you take your problems outside.

    I've had my share of school troubles. And my principal was VERY interested in keeping troubles "in house". I made it pretty clear that "we'll warn him" will not silence me, so actions were taken that satisfied me. Ultimately it led to a teacher being transfered to another school. You can accomplish a lot when you know just how much pressure to use. Too little and nothing gets done. Too much and you may well cause more damage than warranted.

  • Re:IANAL, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:12AM (#26586721)

    I worked in IT at a university a few years ago. We wanted to implement systems by which professors could lecture on one campus and students at other campuses could view and participate via internet; also, the lecture would be recorded and made available to the students in the class for the remainder of the term. The professor would also get the recording and could recycle it for future terms.

    Some professors objected on the grounds that it would be a violation of their intellectual property of their lectures.

    The university management discussed this with the university lawyer, and a form was distributed to all professors. They were required to acknowledge with signature that as they were paid for creating and giving their lectures, these lectures and their content constituted work for hire and were thus property of the university. If they didn't like this they could retain ownership of their lectures... and would be fired.

    There was no further problem with intellectual property of lecture content.

  • by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:13AM (#26586723) Homepage Journal

    ...such as a livescribe pulse, or the like would allow you to capture not just the notes you take during the class, but in some cases the actual audio involved. Each day sync the pen to your computer, post your notes to your web page and blog. At the end of the year turn in the notebook as requested, and for your reference from then on, either look up the data on your web page, or print out the online edition of the notebook.

    After the term is graded, and the grades are recorded permanently, publicly thank the teacher for wasting the time you spent in the class, as the notes you took as part of the class are no longer available to refer back to.

    From my own experience, I have to admit that perhaps one or two of the classes I took through the various schools that I attended, ever provided me with useful reference material for subsequent classes. In almost all cases the real intent of the class is to learn how to find the answer to the question, and rarely ever has it been strictly having the 'correct' answer.

    That applied to being able to demonstrate in the materials turned in for projects that you were able to derive the correct information, or in situations where research on a subject was required, being able to demonstrate that you were able to find resources that support the conclusion you are presenting, or in some cases the ability to propose a conjecture, and demonstrate through the appropriate research that the conjecture is invalid.

    The knowledge gained in the process should become a tool you can use that does not rely on the material specific to that course.

    In much of the US, high school students are required to take classes in a couple of English classes, some variety of mathematics, a Science class, and a variety of general electives. I strongly suspect that the vast majority of college students have never picked up their high school notebook for one of these classes to refer back to when attempting to understand a topic being discussed in college.

    One side effect of this teacher's process very well may be to instruct the student in the value that their notes may have later on, but only if the material is available to them, and reviewed. If you have constructed a means of insuring that your notes are available to you, whether it be with a pen that captures your notes, or if you personally spend time each week transcribing your notes into your computer, or into another notebook, then you will have gained on the availability side, if not on the initiative to review those notes.

    Think also of the library at Alexandria. We very well know that we lost significant knowledge of a number of topics as a result of it burning, and have no way of knowing if we have recovered that knowledge, or not.

    Server admins have a pretty good idea of the value of having an available backup of the files on the server.

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:37AM (#26586837)

    Study is study. Lecture notes do not help people "cheat", except in the sense that they might not have to physically be present at the lecture in order to benefit from them.

    Funny thing for me is that I find the whole situation bullshit from the beginning. I understand the idea is to verify that the student has retained the information and more preferably can demonstrate an application of that knowledge in a meaningfully productive way. What I find is bullshit about it, is that it does not represent real life for many people in most the of the areas of study that I am aware of.

    Personally, I have an inordinate number of reference books around me and when I code I even have a whole monitor dedicated just to references on my systems. Many people are no different. Mechanics, Plumbers, Doctors, Lawyers, Coders, Technicians, Teachers, etc. all have access to reference materials around them at all times. You almost cannot do most of the jobs without it.

    The value that a class should provide, IMHO, is the core understanding of the material itself and how to apply it. Critical thinking. Additionally, any academic institution should be instilling very strong research skills into their students. Research is a person's real strength. Not that they have the answer immediately on the tip of their tongue, but they can say, "I don't know, but I will get the answer shortly". Over time any experienced person will refer to the references less and less, but they will never have to stop doing research.

    Look at this way. If you have no beforehand knowledge of the material and you cannot apply it to a problem either, how can references possibly help you solve a problem in a real world time-frame? You would lose the contract or get fired since you have zero experience entering the field. A genius cannot become a doctor and diagnose and heal a bunch of people within 24 hours with references alone. It would be a rather huge learning curve to overcome.

    The only way you could do that in an academic setting is if the test is multiple choice, and multiple choice tests are the biggest single catastrophic failure in our education systems since we first had written languages. There is always one right answer, a reasonable answer that is not correct, and a 2 or 3 other answers that are off the wall bullshit. It's the easy way out for educators and most often leaves students with very little retention of the material over time. Life is not a multiple choice test. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but it is true. There is not always a sign in front of you with the correct course of action. You have to be able to think and gather all the data around you and analyze it. In short, research skills.

    I would absolutely challenge anybody to the following experiment. Have 100 students that have been discussing the material for 6 months with their professors and each other. Have 100 students in isolation, or with no exposure to the material at all. Create a test with no multiple choice answers. This test would have so many questions that nobody could answer them all within the testing period. Allow any and all references to the students during the test.

    Grade it according to a curve. Look at how many wrong answers a person gives relative the right answers. Then look at that relative to their peers.

    I would be willing to bet the 1st set of students do dramatically better overall than the 2nd. Some of the students in the 2nd group may be do as well as their 1st group peers, but I would bet they are already possess exceptional research abilities and be able to think fast on their feet. Some of the students in the 1st group may be "low watt bulbs". Even after being exposed to the material for six months and talking about they have not retained much information or garnered any insights as well.

    The students that do well in such an experiment would probably do well in any real world setting too.

    Problem with testing that way is that it represents more work for the teacher. However, that is what teaching assistants are for. Just do the damned work IMO. My tuition paid for it.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:43AM (#26586863) Journal

    The RIAA didn't do this. The RIAA added (sort of, through lobbying):

    1) Anit-circumvention restrictions
    2) Safe harbour provisions
    3) Other DMCA stuff I don't know about
    4) Longer copyright term lengths (or was that Disney?)
    5) Certain law precedents defining copyright infringement around P2P (not through lobbying, though)

    None of these apply here. This would have been just as sticky before the RIAA's influence.

  • Re:That's theft. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by russ1337 ( 938915 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:51AM (#26586899)

    If i understand correctly , the problem is the some students cheat by copying over the tests and homework.

    All the teacher has to do is give different tests and homework for each class. How hard can that be ? My teachers always worked this way.

    I must have been lucky. The teachers at my school spent the entire year preparing my class for the exams. They taught us how to figure out how to answer the questions, and about the topic! They loved it when we wrote down the notes so we could follow up after class and review what they had told us.

  • by DangerFace ( 1315417 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:00AM (#26586933) Journal

    Yes, it is cynical, and a very defeatist attitude. Not to sound naive, but freedom is only as dead as you let it become.

    Sorry, but the school I went to (sometimes) allowed me the fun game of watching pupils (that is, 13 and 14 year old kids) punching teachers in the face without any kind of retribution, and here comes the fun part, then those same kids would turn around and punch me, while the teacher watches and does nothing.

    I am now aware this isn't an entirely normal school experience, but I wasn't at the time. If I was late for class the excuse "Well, my nose is bleeding, I have bruises on my face and twigs in my hair and mud on my clothes from being beaten up and thrown down a hill into a bush, and then I had to limp here" simply would not do. A defeatist attitude may have been to simply curl up into a ball, skip as much class as possible and leave as soon as possible, but instead I took a can-do, proactive approach of trying to do things and to get things done.

    For that reason I now cannot think of anyone as innately good unless I've known them for years, can't do formal education or sometimes public places because I still get panic attacks, and am only just learning, six years on, that maybe not everyone starts off in a default position of being amused by my pain. Sometimes, when you actually are defeated, a defeatist attitude is more correctly defined as a realistic attitude.

    Hope is the tool of con men and tyrants - remember that.

  • by Secret Rabbit ( 914973 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:04AM (#26586945) Journal

    ... I was eating candy while reading. The librarian came up and demanded that I stop eating in the library and to give her the candy. I said no. She tried to take it away but I grabbed it, said I would put it away and proceeded to put it in my backpack. She tried to grab it from my backpack and I slapped her hand. She looked shocked and walked away. I was 16 or 17 at the time. I suffered zero repercussions due to my actions.

    In essence, get a spine. Someone cannot just take your property just because they want it. It doesn't matter if they are in a perceived position of authority. They don't have the right. That is unless you've entered into contract that states that they can. Which you haven't mentioned is the case and is *far* from standard practice at high schools in North America. Not to mention that minors can't enter into contract.

    But, at this point, I'd suggest going to the Principle *with your parents* to get this resolved. If they don't budge, then local news outlets are *always* looking for stories. I'm sure they'd be interested in this.

  • by Elrond, Duke of URL ( 2657 ) <> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:43AM (#26587125) Homepage

    Hope is the tool of con men and tyrants - remember that.

    Ouch. I think we're entering some cynicism overload territory here.

    I am now aware this isn't an entirely normal school experience, but I wasn't at the time.

    No, but having read /. for years, it's not too uncommon here. Personally, I'm in an extreme minority here, having actually enjoyed high school for the most part. I attended a "GATE"/magnet public high school and while there's always some amount of bullying and/or unhappiness, it was generally good with excellent teachers.

    Most of the teachers enjoyed their jobs (although one of my English teachers was something of a flake) and did a decent job of teaching both the subject at hand as well as critical thinking.

    Media reports, talking to other people, and posts like yours make me extremely grateful I attended such a school and at the same time sad that other schools were not more like mine. If there were more, there would be far fewer unhappy students on Slashdot...

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:43AM (#26587127) Homepage Journal

    Best is to scan the whole notebook, stash the files away, never mentioning it, then turn in the original.

    Then, when you finally finish your contact with the asshole, post the entire content on the net and publish the info on your school website.

    And let THEM fight YOU.

  • Context (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mjpaci ( 33725 ) * on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:58AM (#26587201) Homepage Journal

    Is this in the US? Canada? Europe? It's kind of hard to formulate a legal defense/explanation for this without knowing the jurisdiction. The Internet is Global, what passes muster in one country may be completely alien in another. Please provide more context or a link to the original forum post.

    Thank you.


  • by conureman ( 748753 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:59AM (#26587217)

    Excuse me, seriously, what state is this you live in? In the People's Republic of California, the primary focus of public education is herd training the students into a sheep-like mass who know how to give proper deference to their betters, and if a student has the temerity to call the police they will find that the teacher has friends in low places- ever hear the old student slogan? "Don't tase me, Bro."

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @07:17AM (#26587327)

    Well you can't do anything now since you consented to her taking them by letting her in your backpack. Sounds like you just got a lesson in 4th amendment rights. Never let anyone, including authority figures cop teachers, have your personal property ever. Even if you have nothing to hide.

    Of course you can do something. He didn't consent to hand it over, he was tricked into falsely believing that she had the right to it. So making him hand it over fully fits the definition of fraud: Fraud happens when you hand over your property yourself because you were made to believe something which is not true, whereas theft happens when something is just taken away from you illegally. If he believed she had the right to take his notes and handed them over, she committed fraud. If he refused to hand them over and she just took them, then it is theft.

  • Re:Go nuts! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mikelieman ( 35628 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:11AM (#26587605) Homepage

    Well, perhaps it's best to remain focused.

    Assume the kid had 90 days of class. That's 90 hours.

    90 hours * 20 = 1800$

    Now, given this is America, and people are entitled to profit from their works, double it to $3600, the value of the notes STOLEN.

    That's Grand Theft. Focus on that. The police can get their heads around that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:46AM (#26588035)

    In high school in the library, my English teacher tried to make me clean up after some other student's mess. I refused and tried to walk off. She grabbed my wrist and started hauling me back. I pried her hand off of me, and consequently got suspended for "assaulting" a teacher.

  • by ziggy_az ( 40281 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:04AM (#26588719) Homepage

    A student here in Arizona was strip searched at a high school because the school administration got a tip that she might be carrying and distributing prescription strength ibuprofen. The legality of this strip search has been contested and the case has made it's way to the Supreme Court: []

    That is High School. If this original person involved is in higher education, then the law is pretty clear: Search and Seizure without reasonable suspicion of a crime is in fact a crime.

  • Which school? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Risen888 ( 306092 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:22AM (#26588849)

    Specifically, high school or college? If it's college, they're yours and the professor may be guilty of trespass. If it's high school, you have no right to private property whatsoever. They can raid your backpack, trash your locker, steal your cell phone, force you to empty your pockets. As a high school student (in America, at any rate) you have no rights.

    Now, if you want to talk ethics, that's a different issue altogether. I'm talking about the law.

  • Re:Then again... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:50AM (#26589039)
    I had a professor once try to do a similar thing. He demanded to keep the source code for anything we wrote while in class. Albeit he wasn't about to commit theft and assault. He also had this demand in writing so there was official documentation (not very smart for a professor.) A friend was taking the class too so we decided to license our code very, very restrictively; the polar opposites of GPL an BSD. After grades had been posted at the end of the semester, we went to student legal services with our issue. An actual lawyer heard our case, was absolutely incensed, and wrote a certified letter threatening monetary punishments. The professor decided to settle and immediately handed over all documentation, source code, and binaries back to the students. He even threatened to charge us with academic misconduct. The settlement he signed had a provision that he could not make any such accusations or face civil trial for breech of contract. The professor was given an administrative sanction which became a forced (four month sabbatical.)
  • Re:Notes? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yyttrrre ( 741310 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:29PM (#26589405)
    This would be a non issue had you typed all your notes. The upside would be:

    1. Near infinite backups
    2. The priceless look on your teachers face when you told her
  • Re:Notes? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dziban303 ( 540095 ) <> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:48PM (#26589591) Homepage
    This almost happened to me once, and oddly enough, in Economics as well. I refused to turn over my notes and the professor threatened to give me a poor grade (I was getting an A) or turn me in for disciplining. I went to the head of the department and complained and I think the professor's befavior stopped. University of Nevada at Reno, ca. 2000.
  • Re:Notes? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by radtea ( 464814 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:34PM (#26590017)

    From the moment they entered primary school 15 years ago, they have been under the boot of a "one-strike" "zero-tolerance" public school system that rewards blind obedience and conformity and punishes individuality and critical though

    This is the kind of description that reminds me of how infinitely glad I am I moved back to Canada fifteen years ago, just before my first child was born. My kids have grown up without ever having walked through a metal detector except at the airport, and although they have had the usual mix of good, bad and indifferent teachers they have never been subject to this kind of knee-jerk authoritarian jerk policy.

    It was my impression that this kind of thing was common in American public schools, at least in the part of California where I lived, when I left in the early '90's, and it doesn't sound like things have gotten any better in the meantime.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Failed Physicist ( 1411173 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:48PM (#26590165) Journal

    Shouldn't you ask to be reimbursed? After all, all of your visible work for the course was destroyed by the teacher, it's the same as if she refused to teach you.

  • by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:59PM (#26590269) Journal

    This was a number of years ago before some of the sociopolitical changes that led to TFA's situation.
    In my case we agreed to it beforehand.
    I was taking advanced organic synthesis, and what we had to do was make a new molecule, something that had never been made before (or, less attractively, had never been made by that particular route.)
    I chose to make explosives. My girlfriend at the time chose to make methamphetamines. The teacher talked it over with each of us and we agreed, in writing, before we started, that when we finished the school would confiscate and destroy our notebooks and reports... but they let us do it.
    The material we were producing was clearly dangerous, but in both cases they were novel syntheses that fulfilled the criteria for the class project. We knew that the work we were doing was going to be destroyed at the end of the term before we started. It seemed fair to me.

  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) * on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:38PM (#26590619)
    From the moment they entered primary school 15 years ago, they have been under the boot of a "one-strike" "zero-tolerance" public school system

    You have officially scared the shit out of me. The first of my three kids enters kindergarten next fall, and I don't want him to be a mindlessly obedient robot, but I agree with you that is the natural consequence of these stupid policies.
  • Re:Galindo? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:59PM (#26592083) Homepage
    Indeed. I have a bachelor's degree in music composition and have apps out for music grad school, and love telling people about how I got a D in music in 5th grade. I had been playing flute for 3 years, and knew my way around a page of music. Come 5th grade, we had music class with a general "this is a quarter note, this is a half note" curriculum. It was extremely basic, and I saw no need to write anything down... I could pass a test on it, easy. One day, "OK, everyone, turn in your notes!"


    Apparently, there was to be no test, with the notes making 100% of the grade. The D, rather than F, came from me scribbling down a bunch of things in the time between "Everyone turn in your notes" and the teacher getting to my desk.
  • Re:NO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KeithIrwin ( 243301 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:05PM (#26592739)

    Most schools and universities have policies which say that teachers must disclose their grading criteria to students explicitly at the beginning of the course. If turning all notes over to the teacher was not mentioned in that grading criteria and she grades the student down for not doing it, then the student would certainly win a grade appeal and it would be a black mark on the teacher. If it was included in the grading criteria at the beginning of the course, the student should disputed it earlier.

  • urban legend? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yali ( 209015 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @07:08PM (#26593371)

    Not to throw water on the fires of righteous indignation, but... did this incident actually happen?

    There are no links in the summary. I tried searching Google for phrases [] quoted in the summary. I couldn't find anything that wasn't a repost or link back to this Slashdot thread. No sight of the original forum post. Granted, it may not be indexed... but it's a little weird.

    (The reason I went looking, BTW, is that it isn't clear from the summary whether this was a college professor, which everybody seems to be assuming, or a high school teacher, which seems more plausible to me. I have trouble imagining a college-level instructor even trying, never mind getting away with this. By contrast, I have little trouble imagining this sort of story being spread without verification.)

  • by Zero_Independent ( 664974 ) <[] [at] []> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:53PM (#26595037)

    I can't believe all the stupid shit I hear from the slashdot nerds on this incident. Call a lawyer. Punch her in the nose. Have a hissy fit and call the ALCU.

    To all the ALCU nerds, I applaud your dedication to the greater good. I just have no personal interest in being a hero. What's the first thing a bank robber says to bystanders? Don't be hero. Heroes get shot.

    Didn't anyone learn anything from Ender's Game? Actually I think Ender's Shadow is a bit more helpful. You gotta build alliances. You gotta manipulate people. First you need to have a good, or at the very least, a neutral reputation. If you have already caused a bunch of problems for everyone, and no one would be willing to help you in your endeavor to destroy the teacher, then fuck it you lost, retreat and plan for your next encounter.

    Your best weapons against enemies is ridicule and scorn. You have to make fun of enemies so that everyone can see how weak and full of shit they are. You need to isolate your enemy. Make sure she doesn't have a friend to turn to, because you've been busy making her seem foolish and stupid. You, as a young kid have an advantage, in that you have more leeway. You can be more vicious, because you're a kid. Nobody will expect you to be completely moral. The teacher on the other hand is expected to be the bigger man, so if you can just push her a little off her teacher ethics you can isolate her with less.

    Your first task is to turn the students against her. This would be most effective, if and only if, you can make the case that she is the only teacher who can't control her students. If the whole school hates every single teacher, the teachers will gang up and you be unable to get any of the teachers to break rank. The next step is to get the rest of the teachers and staff to turn on her. From what I can gather the teacher is this old lady who's been there too long, and has gone crazy with power. The other teachers probably resent her for sucking at her job and taking their place in tenure. Remember the teacher that had a bible on his desk? The administration turned on him so fucking fast it was hilarious.

    It's all about manipulation. It's your job to make her seem unreasonable using humor and other people's prejudices and at the same time make yourself seem completely reasonable. So let's imagine you were eating lunch at the school cafeteria and you turn your back on your backpack for one second then turn around and you saw some person you don't know digging through you bag. What would be the correct response? You say, very loudly so other people can hear, "Excuse me what the fuck do you think you're doing!? Are you going through my bag? Are you looking for my wallet?" You then proceed to beat the living shit out of him because nobody likes thieves. Now, obviously you can't beat the living shit out of an old lady who controls your grades and might potentially have friends in the administration. Everyone would think you're a young punk and they'd send you straight to juvi and ruin your life, because from their point of view, your life doesn't matter.

    The correct response when the teacher went into your bag would have been "Did you just go through my bag? Are you feeling alright? Maybe you should see a doctor because disregard for common social norms like not going through other people's stuff can be an early indicator of dementia. You don't want people thinking your some old bag lady that's completely unaware of her surroundings do you? There's this crazy woman at the supermarket that keeps asking me to accept Jesus as my savior. Finally I just told her that I was Jesus and that I've come to take her to the rapture. And she believed me!"

    Later after class, you approach her when you two are alone. You pretend to be contrite. I'm sorry I was rude earlier. I've been so angry lately. But really, you shouldn't do that sort of thing, reaching into people's backpacks. Listen I'm willing to not make a big deal out of it, if you just leave me alone.

    Then you get h

  • Re:NO (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @07:39AM (#26597157) Homepage Journal

    The teacher can ask you to destroy the notes, but s/he cannot confiscate anything belonging to you, nor use your notes in any way without your permission. If s/he destroys them or takes them, it is theft/conversion and you can sue or press criminal charges.

    A teacher/professor can ask you to destroy the notes, but unless there is a formal contract or blatantly stated department/university policy that explicitly requires you to do so (upon condition of being able to attend), there is no legal basis to enforce such a request and a student can simply say "No".

    Even in the case of a formal policy requiring such destruction of class notes, the most that a school could do is simply dismiss the student from the school... and even that would have shaky grounds that may be challenged on a legal basis in terms of "freedom of the press" arguments.

    The first amendment has been found enforceable in the classroom, even to the point that note passing between students during class is found to be legal (aka passing a joke or a love letter), with the only defense for confiscation of notes to be a "disturbing the peace" type of situation where a student may be disruptive during the act. Yes, that was the U.S. Supreme Court that found note passing to be legal, and it went that far.

    Frankly, I don't think even formal publication of excerpts from a class and a scholarly compilation of other class resources like slides, multimedia content, and textbooks could be stopped. Far from being wrong, such compilations and scholarly review is explicitly mentioned in most copyright law as permitted and encouraged. That most students wouldn't bother is besides the point, but it can't be stopped. An example of this is a classic term paper, where the student (not the instructor) retains copyright. If you happen to cite the professor in that term paper, they should be flattered, not angry.

    If you, as a student, decided to publish and share with fellow students your notes done in some semi-polished manner and even made a little money off of the project (aka to help fellow students to "cram" for the final), there is nothing any school could do to stop that sort of activity, even if formal school policies prohibit such activity. Such prohibitions would be found to be illegal, although you may have to take it to court.

Disks travel in packs.