Monkey See, Monkey Do

During convocation of June 2011, Dr. Philip Baker of University of Alberta was caught plagiarizing a part of his commencement address to a graduating class during their convocation [1,2]. Part of the speech was taken from a speech given by Dr. Atul Gawande at Stanford and published in The New Yorker[1]. Dr. Baker claims to have a lapse of judgement and neglected to probably cite the source of his inspiration [1,2]. He later resigned as the Dean of Medicine at University of Alberta but remains a Professor [3].

We, as students, have always been taught that plagiarism is considered to be one of the worst academic offense one can commit. The resulting punishment ranges from receiving a zero for the course to expulsion from the University depending on the situation.  I can only imagine the consequences would only get worse the further down our career path we go. It is difficult to say if Dr. Baker have received a fair judgement or not, and I don’t intend to be one to judge that particular aspect. It’s not the punishment I’d be concern about but the example he had set for current and future students.

It would seem that this happens alot. I don’t mean Professors being caught plagiarizing but rather role models like parents, teachers, professors, and so on, forget that they are full time role model, 24/7 for children, students, or in general the younger generation.

Many of the elder (read: wiser) generation’s role in society is to lead and guide the younger generation down the right path. Anything they do sets an example (and a frame of mind) for the younger generation of what is right and what is wrong. It is not enough to simply tell them what is right and what is wrong, but one must follow up on their own teaching and set and example.

e.g. telling a kid smoking/drinking is wrong and they shouldn’t do it, yet you yourself smokes like a chimney and drink like a fish at home. That’s just not going to work.

It is just like the saying goes “Monkey see, monkey do”. It’s confuses the follower when you say one thing and do the opposite.

Dr. Baker have fallen in to this very situation. As a Professor, I’m sure he has taught his student regarding plagiarism and proper use of citations in their reports, papers, thesis, etc. However, he has himself either set a bad example for plagiarism, or at the very least set a bad example for proper use of citations.

In short, the example that you set by your actions leaves a far deeper impression within your follower’s mind than what you say. Leading by example is simply one of the most effective method of leadership. So please, if you are in a role of leadership, lead them with your action alongside your words, not just either one of them.


[1] Wingrove, J. (2011, June 13), University of Alberta dean faces review after poaching speech from New Yorker scribe, The Globe and Mail, Available Online:

[2] Wallace, K.  (2011, June 14), University dean apologizes for poaching parts of convocation speech, The Toronto Star, Available Online:–university-dean-apologizes-for-poaching-parts-of-convocation-speech

[3]U of A dean who copied part of speech resigns (2011, June 17), The Toronto Star, Available Online:–u-of-a-dean-who-copied-part-of-speech-resigns


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