[OT] Supporting "homework" (was: Re: Checking a Number for Palindromic Behavior)

Andre Engels andreengels at gmail.com
Thu Oct 22 10:24:56 CEST 2009

On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 7:04 AM, Dieter Maurer <dieter at handshake.de> wrote:
> Steven D'Aprano <steven at REMOVE.THIS.cybersource.com.au> writes on 20 Oct 2009 05:35:18 GMT:
>> As far as I'm concerned, asking for help on homework without being honest
>> up-front about it and making an effort first, is cheating by breaking the
>> social contract. Anyone who rewards cheaters by giving them the answer
>> they want is part of the problem. Whether cheaters prosper in the long
>> run or not, they make life more difficult for the rest of us, and should
>> be discouraged.
> A few days ago, I have read an impressive book: "Albert Jacquard: Mon utopie".
> The author has been a university professor (among others for
> population genectics, a discipline between mathematics and biologie).
> One of the corner therories in his book: mankind has reached the current
> level of development not mainly due to exceptional work by individuals
> but by the high level of cooperation between individuals.
> In this view, asking for help (i.e. seeking communication/cooperation)
> with individual tasks should probably be highly encouraged not discouraged.
> At least, it is highly doubtful that the paradigm "each for himself,
> the most ruthless wins" will be adequate for the huge problems mankind
> will face in the near future (defeating hunger, preventing drastic
> climate changes, natural resources exhaustion, ....); intensive
> cooperation seems to be necessary.

I think you are much mis-interpreting the quoted text here. Steven is
arguing against "asking for help on homework **without being honest
up-front about it and making an effort first**". We are all willing to
help people who say "For such-and-such homework assignment I created
this-and-that program but I still cannot work out how to do so-and-so
part." The problems come when someone shoves a simple problem at us,
and basically says "I must write this simple program, please do it for
me." The canned response for that is "What have you tried and where
did you get problems?" - look for a way to cooperate with people, to
help them where that is necessary. What is being argued against is to
just give the people the code in such a case. Steven and others are
*looking for* cooperation, not shying away from it. Cooperation in the
form of "try to do it yourself, and if that fails, we will help you".
What we don't want is 'cooperation' in the form "just shove your
problem on our plate and consider yourself done".

André Engels, andreengels at gmail.com

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