Sharing… goes beyond kindergarten

I heard more than once that some chemistry teachers don’t like to share. I’m not referring to popsicles or spouses, but to self-developed resources: handouts, labs, PowerPoint lessons and the like.

Why would teachers hoard resources? It boggles the mind. A teacher works hard to produce a high quality item. Must that piece of excellence die with him or her? Can no one take this resource and improve it or put his or her spin on it?

Could the reason be financial? It makes no sense: How much money can one make from a kinetics lab or a stoichiometry worksheet? Bill Gates didn’t get rich from his review sheets.

Maybe the reason is more like “Why should I share with Mr. So-and-so? He’s lazy.” Okay, fine, but do his students need to suffer? It sounds like they’re suffering enough.

Perhaps teachers don’t like to share their resources because they don’t think they’ll get the credit they deserve. “This is my [whatever]… and I want everyone to know it.” Forget about credit — think about karma.

If you’re a teacher who doesn’t share, GET OVER IT. It is not about you, and it’s not about your students. It’s about students. If you’re in a department that does not value this kind of collegiality, be the change you want to see.

And if you’re a teacher who shares the fruits of his or her labour — in Chem 13 News or at conferences or in the staff room — I’m preaching to the converted. (In any case, the editor suggested that I ask you to post this by the photocopier or the coffee machine.)