- Appreciate it when educators become market-savvy.
- Appreciate how new technologies might help a few teachers strike gold.
- And certainly appreciate the concept that a viral market of idea sharing could be good for all involved.
My first gut reaction was "A wee bit scary". My second reaction was "This makes me sad". My third reaction was that they're working very, very, very hard to solidify an out-dated model of learning, one where there is a teacher-expert at the front of the room who will 'deliver' instruction...and simply using the Web to sell curriculum doesn't make it a 21st century vehicle for any relevant change.
But none of my reactions was "Hey, I want to rush out and use my teacher salary to pay for some other teacher's lesson plan when I can pretty much get all of it for free from colleagues or the Net, and if I can't, I probably ain't gonna spend my own money when I can just photocopy the worksheets!"
My immediate reactions:
- With all of the stock photography available on this planet, this is the photo that will inspire teachers to pay out of their own pocket? Seriously -- this must be someone's oddly-historical memory view of what a teacher looks like. Can't believe she's not holding up an apple and a piece of slate, with a ruler pointing at an outdated geography roll-up map.
- Search for curriculum? I tried using the filters by typing in: English, 1-hr, individual lesson, 12th grade and dozens of other variations...and nothing. Nothing. Not a thing. And since they don't disclose the cost of a lesson (which I can't find), I'm guessing it's more than I want. If they went with a $.99 a download like with iTunes, perhaps they'd manage to do some good...but gut tells me they'll want more...and I'm not searching longer to find out what they're charging. Perhaps if they offered "frequent flier" miles, so to speak, or some other "bartering" system that allowed teachers to really be resourceful...
- When are they going to figure out that the 'future of learning' is not teacher-writing-curriculum driven? When are they going to realize that simply buying decent curriculum is not going to matter if you can't completely re-think the entire premise of what will engage a learner as we step foot into a brave new world of thinking, collaboration, and experimentation?
And the blog...which if it were independent of the site, I'd be much more impressed...might be worth a look. Clearly a bright, passionate, curious guy. Not at all what I expected, to be sure. Only the first post really talked about the site, business plan, etc. Even appreciated the following:
Kudos to Paul for enabling this new medium for communication and community. It is a thrilling honor to be instrumental in the development of this ground-breaking exchange. The time is long overdue for quality education to earn respect from within the ranks of its own teachers. So much of today’s press focus on the perils of education and the failures of society. Teachers Pay Teachers awards us the opportunity to prove the value of the "art" of teaching over the "job" of teaching.
But is selling tried-and-true lessons plans really an "art" or even a worn postcard of the "Mona Lisa"?
Wish he had stopped there. Because much of the blog is filled with some solid thinking that ironically has little to do with the business model itself...which is probably why its great.
But as you dive deeper into that aforementioned post, he shows his real hand by pointing a finger of blame -- teachers who just call it in, kids who don't care, etc. And it seems that now we have the real philosophical underpinnings of the site. Not only are the teachers fed up with not being paid, but now they're fed up with students who simply want "easy, fast, and simple". I'm assuming he's talking only about university-level students, since everyone else in the K-12 'market' has little say when it comes to valuing or not liking what their teachers give them.
In any event, perhaps there is a niche-market out there of teachers opening up their wallets to pay for other teacher's lesson plans, but I can say in the 10 years that I taught full-time that there was simply too much great stuff available for free from colleagues and the Net, and that the best lessons I ever 'taught' required the kids themselves to be involved in creating authentic and essential questions. Anything off the shelf is antiquated. The 'future of learning' will be collaborative, but simply 'selling' lessons plans on the Net and acting as if it's a "Brave New World" simply because the business plan tries to cut out the publishing groups and celebrates teachers "paying" other teachers ain't what true engaged collaboration is about.
Go open-source, and I might be impressed. Find unique ways for teachers to profit off or be valued for their creative efforts -- rather than simply 'selling' -- and I'd see long-term opportunity here. But simply selling dittos and photocopies and whatever else seems to be a short-lived vision at best.