Teaching is Stealing

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Open Education is defined as “education without academic admission requirements and is typically offered online. [It] broadens access to the learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems” (Wikipedia, 2017).  After watching the videos this week, I’m all for open education and honestly, I think I always have been – I just don’t think I knew it had a real definition or official term.  If I think back to my university days, I was all over Google looking for math help to make it through those tough math courses and I found a lot of help in websites like Khan Academy and Wolfram Alpha.  They were necessary resources for me to survive these courses, as well as help from fellow classmates.

As I moved into my teaching career, it is very rare I make a lesson or project from scratch.  In university, the famous Rick Seaman told us “Teaching is Stealing” and I still believe that to this day.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel if there are perfectly good resources online, or in another teacher’s hands.  I have taken from the web, from websites like Teachers Pay Teachers, and used videos from Khan Academy as well as my new favourite resource, Desmos.  For those of you who don’t know what Desmos is, it’s a FREE online graphing calculator app.  No longer do you need to pay obscene amounts of money for graphing calculators and even better, it’s in colour.  There is also a plethora of teacher-made lesson plans and graphing calculator activities on this app which anyone can access.  I have yet to figure out how to make these activities, but until I do, there are plenty activities there that I can tweak and use for my students.

But back to my point on “Teaching is Stealing;” I think teachers should live by this rule.

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From Everything is a Remix Part 3

As a beginning teacher, I have survived my first few years by asking other teachers for resources for courses they have taught, and in return, I pass on my resources to other teachers new to the career or a course I have taught.  I believe the teaching community motto should be “pay it forward” always!  I can’t tell you how many teachers have asked me for resources and I gladly help however I can, because when I need resources for a new course, there will always be another willing teacher to help me out.  This is where I feel the “Everything is a Remix” theory fits directly into education (and I need to say, this video series was so interesting and informative; my mind was blown many times while watching).  The main purpose of the video series was to break down the barriers of original concepts and make people realize that everything is indeed a remix, even subconsciously.  Everything ever invented, has concepts from other places integrated into it, in order to create the completed puzzle.  Teaching is the same way.  Original ideas are awesome, but in a demanding career, why not remix a resource you find online or from a fellow colleague, instead of spending hours reinventing the wheel only to find someone has already done it?

Copyrights.  According to Kirby Ferguson, “the belief in intellectual property has grown so dominant, it’s pushed the original intent of copyrights and patents out of the public consciousness” (Everything is a Remix, Part 4).  In 1790, the original Copyright Act was intended for the “act for the encouragement of learning” and the Patent Act was to “promote the progress of useful arts.” We have gone so far beyond this, and as humans, we have become selfish.  We are fine with copying Ferguson says, as long as what is being copied is not our own.  There are constant lawsuits over this idea and as teachers, we do need to be aware of the consequences of copying resources online, if there is a copyright infringement.

The idea of open education as a teacher is great, because it gives a plethora of resources that we can freely access without the worry of our school budgets.  However, we do need to be aware of where we “steal” things from.  The idea of the Copyright and Patent Acts was to “better the lives of everyone by incentivising creativity and producing a rich public domain.” (Everything is a Remix, Part 4).  We depend too much on paying for resources, and not enough time taking risks.  The idea is to beat the big companies forcing us to pay too much for ideas that should be for the greater good, our students, as Lawrence Lessig discussed in his Ted Talk, Laws that Choke Creativity when comparing the ideas of BMI’s victory over ASCAP in the music industry.  So, we need to get back to this idea of sharing before it is too late for our society and we all become too selfish and stuck in the idea of personal wealth over common good.

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4 thoughts on “Teaching is Stealing

  1. Totally agree. Teaching is helping each other out and sharing. Especially if you are middle years or elementary or teach in a really small school, you can’t possibly be an expert in all subjects. Working together and sharing ideas has allowed me to teach classes like arts ed or science and do a relatively good job of it. I don’t have to be the expert- I just have to connect kids to them. Internet allows me to do that.

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    1. Yes, exactly! Even as a high school teacher, you can get thrown into some subjects you aren’t exactly comfortable with (especially as a newer teacher). I’ve taught everything from Law and Social Studies to Health and Wellness, English and Math. Having other teachers to help and the internet help immensely so we can focus on the important things like you said and connect to kids!

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  3. Kara

    Oh Rick! I remember those days!

    I am with you on sharing resources, anything that I have, I am always willing to hand out. I had an intern a couple years ago and my parting gift to her was a USB that I had shared around the school collecting resources for her inside a ring box and she definitely felt it was that valuable!! Beyond just resources, I also love hearing the ideas of other teachers, the order they teach content, the types of lessons they use, videos they find helpful, funny jokes to tell the class…. all of these things help me become a better teacher and cause me to reflect on how I am teaching!

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