Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Website for Losers

'Tu n'y arrives pas... nous sommes là!' (You can't make it.... we're here!) is the claim of a new website starting tomorrow called where lycéens can pay to have their homework written for them.

I don't know how serious a site it will turn out to be, but the guy behind it is proving to be a master at marketing as everyone is talking about it. It was on the radio this morning, is in Le Figaro and was on the tele at lunchtime. There's even a Facebook page which, interestingly, declares only to be offering to "corriger les devoirs des autres...." (correct the homework of others).

The national parents' association, the FCPE, is appalled, saying it's taking a playground racket and commercialising it, but it's all legal apparently.

It costs 5euros for a basic homework, up to around 30euros for a short dissertation. Broke students at the grandes écoles are queueing up to get on the list of tutors, using the Facebook page, which has 369 members, to make themselves known.

Despite the fact that parents and others are up in arms about the immoral nature of paying for homework and not using homework as a way of improving understanding and learning, they probably don't have too much to worry about. Teachers are not daft, and they will undoubtedly notice if a pupil who writes in a certain way suddenly hands in a piece of work in a different style. Or is suddenly brilliant where s/he is normally thick. They may not care, of course, being more concerned that they can tick off the work as done rather than worrying who did it or having to follow it up because it hasn't been done. French teachers are not the world's most dedicated, it has to be said...

Even at my eldest's private school, he says that they just care about coming in, doing the teaching and going home. What goes on between the pupils, or taking an interest in solving problems does not concern them.

Paying for homework sites exist elsewhere already. The US, natch, has several, and I'm sure it must exist in the UK too. To be realistic, it's no worse than parents doing their children's homework for them, which is something that certainly happens in France. It must be the payment aspect that grates so. Children have cheated with their homework since time immemorial whether it's by beating up the swots until they agreed to do it, or bribing an older sibling, or copying from a book or downloading information off Wikipedia. is just another option for the cheating child with money to spend.

I say, go Stéphane Boukris (the site creator). If kids want to pay someone else and enrich them rather than learning the stuff themselves so they can go on to enrich themselves with a better job, that's their problem. No one is going to sit the exams for them, so when it comes to the crunch, they'll have to learn it or fail. If they fail because they haven't bothered to learn the work that someone else did for them, it'll serve as a marvellous lesson that you can't always buy your way out of trouble.

Meanwhile, the ones who did their own work and didn't fail will be in the grandes écoles with excellent job prospects earning quite a few bob on the side doing homework for losers. It's quite poetic, really, in its symmetry.

Life lesson: only losers cheat.

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