Would it surprise you to find a high school teacher selling his lecture slides online? What if the teacher teaches economics?
I guess in Switzerland (or at this particular school) they don’t consider the teacher’s work as being “work for hire”. Is that a US-only concept? I’m not clear on how copyright differs internationally.
I would venture that this doesn’t fly in most US school districts (including San Francisco Unified, where I work).
This question briefly made national news a little over a year ago:
Interesting that it is so controversial in the states for teachers to sell their lessons. I have developed my lecture notes while working at three different international schools… no one owns my intellectual property but myself!
In my opinion, allowing teachers to sell their lessons online only increases the incentive for teachers to innovate and develop better, constantly improving lessons! The more competition there is in the market for teaching material, the better quality it will become, helping teachers who need help become better teachers, and incentivizing those who are already great teachers to become even more innovative and cutting edge.
Any district policy that bans the selling of lessons by its teachers is basically sending the message: We don’t value your intellectual property rights… we own you and your ideas, there is no economic incentive for such teachers to innovate. Until school districts start rewarding teachers monetarily for their innovation, why not let those who wish to put in the extra time and effort to develop valuable materials reap the rewards of their efforts in the online marketplace?
Jason, I think it’s a brilliant idea, especially from an economics teacher. What an example to set for your students! I hope you share your sales figures with them.
I don’t think it’s typical for American independent schools to deny teachers IP rights to materials that they have developed. At the same time, it’s equally uncommon for teachers to protest the sharing of their materials with colleagues, especially when new teachers join a school.
It seems to me (I’m by no means an economics expert) that ownership stake of these curriculum materials would likely need to be negotiated in case of a dispute. ZIS provided you with an office, computer (likely), and compensation to develop these materials. Surely, the school pays its instructors to develop curriculum materials, not just to teach in class. More likely, they would not contest your commercial activity, because they are aware that your contributions to the school far outweigh any possible negative repercussions of selling your curricula online.
The relationship between U.S. public schools and their teachers is very different, indeed. So is the development of standardized curriculum among grade-level teams. I wonder what that National Board for Professional Teaching Standards would say about this?
I wouldn’t say that there exist no economic incentives for teachers to innovate without IP rights. Professional advancement is often linked to innovation in teaching. Summer curriculum development grants may reward teachers who update curricula or develop new courses.
Richard Kassissieh is Assistant Head of School for Academics and Strategic Initiatives at University Prep in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
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