22 February 2007

Witches on Foot

Kudos to Wikipedia's co-founder for supporting the ax Middlebury just sharpened against the famous user-edited encyclopedia as a source for academic papers and exams.

I mean, I love Wikipedia as much as the next gal, because it's easy to use and indeed informative, but it's not an appropriate academic source. Middlebury Russian prof Beyer says it perfectly in this New York Times article: “I guess I am not terribly impressed by anyone citing an encyclopedia as a reference point, but I am not against using it as a starting point.” Starting point? That presumes students have have multiple points in their research. We live in a world where first-year college students know how to share music and stalk friends on MySpace but not discern whether or not some site they find is accurate or reliable. They must be taught such information fluency.

Countless examples abound in my own experience alone, witless frosh struggling with MLA documentation and grimacing when I tell them it would be a lot easier to cite their sources if they used books rather than AOL personal homepages. Real books, like from the library, that building on campus with the computers on the first floor.

But rather than complain about first-year dopes, I'd like to tell a borrowed story. Arthur Jackson once text-messaged me in the middle of a class he was taking because the prof, Dr. Lake, had just interrupted a woman making a class presentation. He wanted her to explain the source she had mentioned: "What's Wikipedia?" he asked. "Witches on foot?"

5 comments:

lauren said...

You had to tell that story about Dr. Lake? Now I've heard it like 7 times. Gah.

Two Sheds said...

What are you trying to say, B?

muffin said...

I'm just sayin. I know that story upwards, downwards, diagonal, and loop-de-loop.

Micah said...

I always thought witches had no feet. They floated and took brooms for long rides. And what kind of name is Dr Lake anyway? Did Dr Lake go to school with Mr Sunny, Frowny Cloudy, and Dr Scissors, MD?

Arthur Jackson said...

Dear Micah,

I have never encountered a comment that made less sense than your last.

Still, it was funny.