Why I think selling resources to teachers is wrong

Shut up and take my money

This is just a quick post in response to a brief discussion I had earlier.

After seeing a new website that was charging around £8 for a 31-slide Powerpoint and a few worksheets, I tweeted this:

A few people tweeted agreement. A couple of people defended the selling of resources to teachers and questioned why I felt this way. Here’s why:

1. It is generally teachers that pay for these out of their own money, not schools. If anyone wants to suggest that it isn’t, then why do these companies sell individual accounts and pay-as-you-go schemes? Teachers spend enough of their money on things like: subject knowledge books, teaching practice books, stationery, printing, class rewards, etc. (I’m sure you can all add plenty of things to this list). Charging them for things they could and should get for free is just exploiting their commitment to their job.

2. If the resources were produced by a jobbing teacher for their classes, the teacher has technically been paid for producing them. And as the state has paid for them, I feel uneasy that they are making extra income from selling them to somebody else working for the state. Why not just sell the pens out of the department stationery cupboard?

3. If the resources were produced specifically to be sold and not to be used in the creator’s classroom at all (i.e., by a business that solely produces resources), then it’s worth asking: are they selling something that has not been tried, tested and developed in a classroom first? How effective is that resource? New/desperate teachers might just assume it is worthwhile and spend money on it anyway. I’d also question the quality of a resource if the incentive for producing it is purely financial.

4. I don’t think there are many off-the-peg resources that can be taken straight from a third party to one’s classroom. Teachers will spend time developing and altering it to suit the needs of their class. I think it is fair to question the quality of a resource that is produced for generic classes, rather than one that is produced for a specific class.

5. Obviously, one could level some of those last criticisms at resources from third parties that one can get for free. The difference is that with free resources one can pick and choose. When you pay for a resource, you have sunk costs into that resource  – this is a bias that means you will probably be committed to using it, no matter how good it is. I’ve written about the dangers of sunk costs and consistency before.

6. The resources we create are a product of everything we have learnt as teachers over our careers – they are, in part, ideas that we have picked up from other teachers. Nothing is entirely original. If I were to sell a resource, I may have put the effort into typing up the slideshow or worksheet, but the ideas are partly made up of things I’ve picked up from others. I’d be profiting from something that was given freely to me. Again, that makes me uneasy.

7. Why not just be kind? What you give someone else will benefit other classes – classes the other side of the country, maybe the other side of the world. Even if altruism isn’t enough, what about the reward that your reach as a teacher is even greater than the walls of your own classroom? Doesn’t that give off a lovely glow to bathe in?

Please note that this is what my opinion. You may disagree entirely. I am merely responding to those questioning why I feel this way.

19 thoughts on “Why I think selling resources to teachers is wrong”

  1. I agree. I’d also add that by sharing your work freely others use + improve or add to it, which then comes back to you (hopefully) and we all benefit and grow. As is the case with so many of the excellent free blogs which so many teachers write, sharing their practice. Having said this, there are some resources worth paying for, such as anything from the English and Media Centre.

  2. Greater use of Creative Commons licences on practitioner produced resources and greater insight into values-driven activity (such as you outline here) would help. Here, here!

  3. I agree. I have always taken people who praise sites that sell resources with a pinch of salt. In my naivety as a teacher who’s young in the profession, I thought it was simply ‘cheating’. These points have helped refine my argument (should anyone raise one)

    1. Thanks for your comment. I don’t think it is cheating to get resources from somebody else – it is common sense. My objection is to people selling them, when they could just share them for free.

  4. I am a teacher who not only shares resources BUT also sells. Let me give you my point of view…..

    With respect to point 1:

    …..so if a publishing company comes out with a “Book of Printables”, (consequently written by teachers) and sells it, it’s OK. BUT if a teacher creates the product outside the confines of a publishing house…..all of a sudden, it should be FREE?

    With respect to point 2:

    The “jobbing” teacher does not and should not belong to the state 24 hours a day….this isn’t 1984! So anything created on weekends (when I could be devoting time to my family) is definitely ME TIME and not STATE time.

    With respect to point 3:

    Textbooks ARE generic. Your point alludes to just about EVERY text book sold out there by publishers!!!! Most TEACHER MADE products, on the other hand, come with photos of actual kids using the material…..and as a buyer I can certainly pick and choose.

    With respect to point 4:

    Please! ANY resource UNDER THE SUN could be subject to modification when presented to a new class. Even your best FREE copy. Altering the resource is what you do during JOBBING hours…remember?????

    With respect to point 5:

    Ever heard of a return policy? Some sellers actually have those.

    With respect to point 6:

    sooooo,…..stenographers should work for FREE too?????? Not to mention just about * every *single * author * out there.

    With respect point 7:

    Ok. I’ll give you that one. But give me this……if I spend over a year of ME TIME (which could be spent elsewhere) creating an awesome UNIT which you didn’t create because you were actually spending your time with family, …….please award me, AT LEAST, the same consideration you would to a stenographer or author. Thanks.

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