Sunday, November 15, 2009

Teachers Selling Lesson Plans? I'm Buying

As a teacher, I was at my best in front of an audience. But I was lousy at lesson planning in an empty room. I would be at home trying to think of creative ways of presenting things like the difference between the short a and long a (I used to act out the roles of the letters, the poor short a suffering from an inferiority complex). Or creative ways of teaching times tables (I used to light a match and hold it until a child finished reciting the entire table for the one number, the goal being for him to finish before I burned my finger - the sharpest kids got the 8x table, the hardest one in my opinion).

I was one of those teachers whose creativity was stimulated when I was in front of kids. Not always the best way to teach.

I was best at performing, not planning, while some of my colleagues were able to create sharp plans but lacked a certain spark in the presentation. I was always confident that I could take just about any material and tweak it to my style. Like an actor on stage performing a script. So though I rail against rigid scripted programs like "Success for All" I hungered for some scripts I could modify and work from. In my ideal world of teaching, I would have had one or more partners who did the writing while I did the performing. Or marked the homework. It would have been a good deal, as I was comfortable being in front of kids for hours at a time. As long as I had the material. But teaching was never really collaborative in the world I lived in.

So, it was interesting to read on the front page of the Sunday Times, (the attention things teachers do seem to be getting incredible scrutiny) that teachers are putting their lesson plans up for sale. Some school districts are saying they own the rights to teacher lesson plans. Then there's this:

Some purists think that undermines the collegiality of teaching. Beyond the unresolved legal questions, there are philosophical ones. Joseph McDonald, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University, said the online selling cheapens what teachers do and undermines efforts to build sites where educators freely exchange ideas and lesson plans.

“Teachers swapping ideas with one another, that’s a great thing,” he said. “But somebody asking 75 cents for a word puzzle reduces the power of the learning community and is ultimately destructive to the profession.”

I wonder if Professor McDonald has noticed that the ed deformers are trying to turn teaching into a commodity. It's all about competition and merit pay and performance of kids. Dog eat dog. So, why shouldn't teachers take advantage while they can? After all, what is coming is one script for the entire country. Every single teacher will be doing the same exact thing at the same time of the day.

Even way back then in my days, many teachers wrote books based on their experiences and I bought loads of them. So how is that different from using the internet to sell lesson plans?

So yes, I would buy some lesson plans and curriculum designed by real teachers to save me the time and anguish of having to write them.

1 comment:

  1. You're right Norm. Plenty of people make money off of the books they sell. The art of teaching is in the presentation no matter how wonderful the written plans are. But it's good to have a guide/reference as a base.


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