"Sharing is caring"
I spend a lot of time in the car and so listen to a lot of podcasts. Accordingly, I have a bookmarks folder filled with podcast episodes that I want to write about in some capacity and this particular episode is in relation to episode ninety-eight of the Teachers Talking Teaching podcast by Pete Whiting and John Catterson where Pete spoke about this article from Business Insider references how some (many?) teachers are making money selling the resources they produce on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers.
Pete and John brought up some interesting and challenging points, and I found myself nodding along with them as I listened to it. I am a big believer, in this specific space, that teaching is (or should be) a collegial profession - resources should be shared freely. We are all under so much pressure from a time perspective, that resources should be freely shared.
A big part of my current role is running training sessions with teachers and I regularly say wherever you can, divvy up the workload - there is no point having three people make the same thing. In my previous teaching role, I was teaching a combined Year One and Two class and we had seven classes of that same mix in the school. So as a team, we divided up the workload and each did the entirety of the programming for a particular subject area plus an element of the Mathematics program. It was fantastic - I only had to program for one subject area (PDHPE) and when I got to, Science, for example, I utilised the Science program that was put together by one of my colleagues.
There is a strong history of teachers and even whole schools freely sharing resources they have developed. I have always offered my resources freely through a Google Drive which is linked to this website (here). Copacabana Public School on the NSW Central Coast is only one example of a school who has on their school website a teaching resources page, freely available to other teachers.
Another issue that was discussed was around whether or not teachers selling this material actually have the right to sell it. Many school systems, and many independent schools, have as part of the employment policy that creation of materials in pursuit of the role remain the intellectual property of the school or school system. This is a really interesting point and one that I both understand and think is silly at the same time. The team of individuals at Apple, for example, who came up with and developed the iPhone went into it knowing that anything they created was the property of Apple, not themselves.
While this is the same idea, at the same time, it's very different. These are individual whole items, rather than what is a part of the overall whole such as whoever designed the current lightning port. It is also a fine line - many teachers also do tutoring on the side. If they create resources for their tutoring students, that they also then use in their classroom it becomes a very gray area.
I also feel like this is an area where it is a perhaps a low-risk bet to ignore the issue of intellectual property. The article indicates that there are eighty thousand contributors on Teachers Pay Teachers - if any school or school system was going to pursue an individual teacher, surely they would have done so by now.
The most interesting point that was brought up and a point that I got the impression Pete struggled with (and I have to admit I am not sure how I feel about it) is that these are typically resources created by teachers in the course of their normal programming, being paid for by other teachers out of their own pocket because it will save them a little bit of time. Buying these resources because it is convenient to do so, because it saves some time for the teacher doing the buying makes complete sense.
There are whole industries built around saving time - mowing, laundry, dog walkers, house cleaning etc. so what is the difference in this case? On one hand, teachers should be compensated for their time and effort and the resources they produce, but on the other hand, they are compensated by their salary.
it is a tough area to work through. Do you have particularly strong feelings one way or another on the topic? I would be very interested in reading your comments on this topic - leave them below.