By insisting on the chimera of originality, we seek to enscribe in pedagogy what we despair of in our own scholarship and creativity. We do so with the best intentions, hoping perhaps to keep our students in a garden of innocence designed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, where true genius can still flourish.
But we're doing our students (even any budding Shakespeares among them) no favours. Instead, we risk locking them into some invidious choices.
Imagine the plight of the student grappling with that term paper on Moby Dick. The deadline looming, she feels she has to choose between saying something clever (but plagiarized) or something original (but stupid).