Caught red-handed: IB boss plagiarising

17th September 2010 at 01:00

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The Chautauqua Institution was not impressed and has withdrawn the speech from its website and bookshop.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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