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Caught red-handed: IB boss plagiarising

News | Published in TES Newspaper on 17 September, 2010 | By: William Stewart

The growing menace of plagiarism has become one of the biggest problems facing exam boards today, prompting strict warnings of the consequences for candidates who cheat.

But this week it has emerged that those running the boards do not always practise what they preach.

Jeffrey Beard, the head of one of the world's most respected assessment organisations - the International Baccalaureate (IB) - has been caught red-handed passing off someone else's work as his own.

The Geneva-based director general of the IB has been publicly named and shamed by an American academic institution where he made a speech that it has discovered "was not original work".

Mr Beard gave a talk on "Education for a Better World" last month at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State.

But a day later the adult education centre issued a statement noting that his speech "drew heavily upon and quoted extensively from a speech given earlier in the year by Sir Ken Robinson".

It appears that Mr Beard broke one of the golden rules of cheating - if you're going to do it don't be too obvious. In using material from Sir Ken, he picked on a world-renowned US-based British educationalist who has had one of his talks viewed more than 1.5 million times on the internet.

"Mr Beard neglected to cite his source or reveal the quotations for what they were. Yesterday's speech was not original work," the statement continued.

The IB's own guide for schools on academic honesty defines plagiarism as "the representation of the ideas or work of another person as the candidate's own".

It also states that "an authentic piece of work is one that is based on the candidate's individual and original ideas with the ideas and work of others fully acknowledged".

This week an IB spokeswoman said: "On reflection, Mr Beard thinks that he could have been more explicit about the sources and authors that inspired him for the content of this speech."

She said he had drawn from "a number of sources", including Sir Ken Robinson, but "it was never Mr Beard's intent to imply that the ideas were his alone".

"If this had not been a speech, but a scholarly or academic paper, he would have made a complete list of all references available," she said.

The Chautauqua Institution was not impressed and has withdrawn the speech from its website and bookshop. Its statement ends: "Mr Beard's behavior in this matter is not characteristic of the work done here at Chautauqua and violates the expectations you should have for that work. We acknowledge to you our genuine disappointment in this event."

The original

Sir Ken Robinson

Lecture title (2010):

"Bring on the learning revolution!"

Role: Lecturer and author on education

Born: Liverpool, UK

Based: Los Angeles, US, but travels extensively

Jeffrey Beard

Lecture title (2010): "Education for a better world?"

Role: Director-general of the International Baccalaureate Organization

Born: Ohio, US

Based: Geneva, Switzerland, but travels extensively

Sound familiar?

"And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly."

"What we need... is not evolution, but a revolution in education."

"We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education..."

"Every day, everywhere our children are spreading their dreams under our feet, and we should tread lightly,"

We have "evolutionary change" but need "revolutionary change".

"Our educational model... is based upon an industrial model."


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Comment (16)

  • All the more all the more disappointing when you see a talk that really addresses ideas about education based on her original research, And also reminds us of IB's values - Jennifer Hartley's talk on perception at a TED conference in Thailand - and guess what Dr Hartley works for the IB.......

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF5an8JHrOQ

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    12:40
    17 September, 2010

    sara01

  • The IB preaches academic honesty in learning and yet it seems this only applies to others. An IB student would risk losing a diploma over this. One rule for Mr Beard another for everyone else.
    And when others' words are used whether it's an academic article or a talk, sources should be acknowledged - doesn't the IB know this? Certainly Mr Beard and the IB spokeswoman don't.
    Thanks for link provided on previous comment - maybe someone should send it to Mr Beard!

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    12:52
    17 September, 2010

    OB10

  • "On reflection, Mr Beard thinks that he could have been more explicit about the sources and authors that inspired him for the content of this speech." On reflection or because he was caught?
    Perhaps IB students could write to the IB that on reflection they should have cited their sources in their work, but it slipped their minds at the time.

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    20:07
    17 September, 2010

    Zimo

  • Sir Ken and Jennifer Hartley both have a passion for teaching and learning which has driven their lives and their career paths and has provided them with a treasure trove of both knowledge and anecdotes upon which to draw when invited to inspire other educators. Mr Beard, on the other hand, comes from a U.S. Navy background, via the competitive world of business, to run the IB organisation; is it likely then that he has a similar wealth of personal experience in education from which to draw? This may explain what happened, but it certainly doesn’t excuse it!
    The IB takes a firm stance on plagiarism and rightly so; when this happens, young people’s academic dreams are dashed and there is an emotional toll to be paid. They are given no opportunity to say “Oops, sorry!” I talk openly and honestly with students about this issue but now feel my moral authority to do so has been compromised.

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    17:22
    18 September, 2010

    bebeka

  • How much of this speech was plagiarized? An intent to plagiarise really needs to be shown for academic repercussions rather than an accidental slip of not citing one source.

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    11:20
    20 September, 2010

    QuantumEdge

  • The article outlines what was plagiarised and it is from various sections of Sir Ken Robinson's speech. If n intent to plagiarise really needs to be shown then let's start marking student's work the same way if it copies from various sections someone else's work the student can just claim that they really had no intent to plagiarise!

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    12:53
    20 September, 2010

    Zimo

  • The article outlines 3 sentences that were plagiarised, I would imagine these 3 sentences do not constitute 90% of the speech, let alone anywhere near 50%. Yes plagiarism is extremely bad and should be punished; however, common sense needs to be applied.

    The IB claims that the speech contained other sources, which I assume were correctly attributed since this article only says one source was incorrectly cited, thus I don't think we can really say Mr Beard was attempting to copy Sir Ken Robinson. A student who missed out one reference but correctly attributed others would not have any certificate (IB, GCSE, Alevel) withheld because common sense would prevail.

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    13:57
    20 September, 2010

    QuantumEdge

  • Hello QuantumEdge - noted your queries. Actually, the full text of Mr Beard's speech at the Chautauqua Institution has not been published yet, precisely because the institution was upset about the plagiarism. Only a handful of direct quotes from it are in the public domain - and we were surprised to see that so many of them had clear similarities to Sir Ken's speech.

    As we've still not obtained the full speech we have yet to see if he did use other sources with or without correct attribution, or whether or not there were further sections that resembled Sir Ken's work.

    It would also be interesting to see if Mr Beard read out in full the Yeats poem, 'He wishes for the cloths of heaven'. Sir Ken did so, then clearly references the poem in his conclusion about treading "softly" on children's dreams. But Mr Beard appears to have changed the line to "gently" - either a mistake or a sign he was not aware of the original quote. That could be material for an IB literature lesson at least...

    All the best,

    Michael Shaw

    TES Opinion Editor
    michael.shaw@tes.co.uk

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    18:02
    20 September, 2010

    Michael Shaw

  • I accept Mr Beard is human and makes mistakes but surely that is NOT the issue. Surely the issue is that he is the director general of one of the world's leading educational organisations. Surely someone in HIS position should NOT be making THAT kind of error. I am shocked that some seem to be qualifying plagiarism in percentages to see if this is a crime worth mentioning. A man in this position, the figurehead and representative of such an organisation should NOT be making such an error, small or otherwise!

    Interestingly I also watched Hartley's TED talk which I found inspiring and which addresses so much that is in the IB mission and is so apt for the arts and Theory of Knowledge. I went on the IB site to see if she really does work for the IB but no sign of her there or her talk so that info seems to be wrong.

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    21:09
    20 September, 2010

    OB10

  • I have spread my dreams under your feet,
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams (WB Yeats)


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    8:33
    21 September, 2010

    simonthom

  • It's disappointing, but I'm pleased he's been caught as it highlights how big the problem is.
    He should have watched fewer TED talks and instead looked at this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mwbw9KF-ACY

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    17:34
    21 September, 2010

    librarydonna

  • One of the IB Learner Profile attributes is 'Principled'. I wonder how Mr. Beard demonstrates this attribute? By using a spokesperson to issue a weak statement, "On reflection, Mr Beard thinks that he could have been more explicit about the sources and authors that inspired him for the content of this speech."
    He should make the statement himself and not prevaricate. 'This is plagiarism, it is wrong, and I have betrayed the IB ideal and done poor service to every IB student, teacher and coordinator by this action.'
    This is like the Pope committing blasphemy!!

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    19:47
    21 September, 2010

    chrism50

  • inexcusable

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    23:28
    25 September, 2010

    HKteach

  • This storm in a tea cup (trad, anon) shows how ridiculous the whole moral panic over plagiarism has become. It is based on a totally false philosophical position that we are all separate and autonomous. Rather, we are dialogical selves (Charles Taylor), who cannot even get to a position of being able to say much at all without incorporating vast amounts of what we hear from others.

    Certainly, there is a place for concern over the stealing of ideas from others and pretending they are your own. But that place is firmly when doing so is for the purpose of gaining a personal benefit - say, in a piece of work for assessment credit, or when writing an academic article for career advancement (which seems to have become the prime reason for academic articles these days...), a book that you are selling.

    But when I am teaching, if I had to footnote every utterance I made, I would never get through a lesson. Most of us would never get through a conversation with friends. Beard was probably unwise, but lets leave it at that.

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    10:06
    26 September, 2010

    TimSprod

  • This HuHa (trad, anon) shows how ridiculous the whole moral panic over plagiarism has become. It is based on a completely false philosophical position that we are all separate and autonomous. Rather, we are dialogical selves (Charles Taylor), who cannot even get to a position of being able to say much at all without incorporating vast amounts of what we hear from our experiences.

    Certainly, there is a place for concern over the taking of ideas from others and suggesting they are your own. But that place is firmly when doing so is for the purpose of gaining a personal benefit - say, in a piece of work for assessment credit, or when writing an academic article for career advancement (which seems to have become the prime reason for academic articles these days...), a book that you are selling.

    But when I am teaching, if I had to footnote every idea or phrase I spoke, I would never get through the day. Most of us would never get through a conversation with friends. Beard was probably careless and should resign, but lets leave it at that.

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    4:30
    8 October, 2010

    Robert Peel

  • Committing plagiarism is one of the worst regulations to break in IB. As an IB instructor, I have warned my students over and over again that they will receive a zero on their assignment if I suspect them of the slightest act of plagiarization. In fact, I even had 30 minute long private talks with several of my students, whom I suspected for committing plagiarism. In fact, this year, I actually caught a student for intentionally plagiarizing another source on one of his essays and had to remove him from the IB program. After reading this article, I actually regret this move now. IB, you have very very much disappointed me.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    9:01
    22 October, 2011

    olives221

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