Amy's Whimsical Musings

There’s No Copyright for Cookies: Why Educators Should Embrace Sharing

As an only child, I learned a lot from my mom, a great single-parent who passed away from cancer a mere 2 years ago. She was an excellent cook and baker, and prided herself in making homemade everything when all the other kids seemingly got Hostess DingDongs and Chef Boyardee. One of my favorite treats – still to this day – are cookies made from scratch. Whatever variety she concocted, I relished in the chewy-crunchy-vanilla-y-chocolate-y-oatmeal-icing goodness of it all. In fact, I hate to admit this but I often start off my week making cookies, and eat one for breakfast every morning just to ensure the day starts off sweetly.

DSC_0079 - Version 2


Mom sharing a gingerbread cookie with my daughter

This passion for cookies got me thinking about the culture of connectivity and sharing, and how education is still steeped in what I think is copyright madness and a tradition of hoarding knowledge, petty competition, and  grasping at “intellectual property”.

You see, I loved my mom’s cookies so much I was often bewildered and dismayed when she’d pack up half the batch to give to a neighbor or friend. I mean, it wasn’t even new neighbors that she was trying to welcome a la those old Leave it to Beaver episodes when June packs up a hospitality basket for the Beav to deliver – her gifts were for people who already knew us and liked us! She’d always say:

“What’s the point of making something good if you’re not going to share it with others?”

It’s true isn’t it? Perhaps that’s why we gravitate to social media. Remember when we used to take photos and carefully arrange them into albums that we busted out at every party or sleepover? That evolved into making “double prints” for a friend, to attaching digital images in emails, and finally Instagram. When we share we reinforce the connections we’ve already made (like my old neighbors) and perhaps establish new connections. Connections lead to other, wonderful opportunities that may lead to or far outweigh any financial gain from “safeguarding” the idea/work from others.

I think education needs to emerge from from “copyright” mentality and embrace the remix culture in which our students are immersed.

To be frank, I’m not even convinced an assignment or project is valid anymore unless it is shared with a wider audience. That’s what students do in the real world, and why shouldn’t they be populating the ether with digital artifacts that showcase their creativity and intellect? And what about us? We educators should steer clear from things like “TeachersPayTeachers” (yes, I know they have some free things but the thought of hawking my ideas to my peers is a bit off-putting), and instead be cultivating our PLNs on Twitter or G+, joining MOOCS, contributing to the blogosphere, and offering impromptu PD sessions at our own schools.

As for “intellectual property”, I think we should abandon references to “stealing” others’ work, and own up to the fact that all creation is derivative, and that truly good ideas come from networking. We should talk in terms of “appropriation” and “attribution”, and be teaching students effective use of creative commons material and how to properly credit their sources of inspiration. The more you share openly, the more it will be obvious the great idea originated with you – that is, if you even care. Because I really believe that, as teachers, we care more about how students take the great-tasting ingredients we give them (the inspiration) and craft them into amazing cookie recipes of their own.

I plan to keep sharing freely the efforts of my labor because:

1. It feels great

2. I make valuable connections that make me even more creative

3. Because my Mama told me to

This post was inspired by a variety of fabulous individuals such as

Henry Jenkins, Rick Falkvinge (“History of Copyright”), Mitch Resnick (“Making, Tinkering, and Remixing”), Austin Kleon (“Steal Like an Artist”), Kirby Ferguson (TED: Embracing the Remix), and Matt Ridley (“TED: When Ideas Have Sex“)

10 comments on “There’s No Copyright for Cookies: Why Educators Should Embrace Sharing

  1. DeborahLGabrielPhDMD
    July 15, 2013

    Thank you, Amy for stepping up to the plate and posting this heartfelt article.
    Just the other day, I was having lunch with a friend, an attorney, who thought he should lecture me about safeguarding everything through copyright.

    It is true we have very different paradigms of the world, but I thought I would give it go by trying to explain in his language about how it was an outmoded business model that has small chance of succeeding in the digital world.

    Though I have little hope that any of the message seeped through, I got some satisfaction-:)

  2. Karen Young
    July 24, 2013

    Amy, what a lovely, thoughtful post. You had a great and wise mum. Learning is all about sharing and creating together. We do this in the kindergarten classroom. How do we, as educators, allow this to change into a climate of hoarding of resources and thoughts?

  3. KevinHodgson (@dogtrax)
    July 25, 2013

    Great post and the right sentiment, in my mind. When we connect and collaborate with others, and learn from and share with colleagues, we grow as individuals and as a community.

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  6. hughtheteacher
    September 4, 2013

    I love this post! Someone commented on a recent post I wrote about the importance of sharing that I should read your post. I’m sure glad I did. I’m so happy to connect with others who eloquently support their position is a passionate, articulate, and engaging way. Educators especially should be modelling sharing amongst each other if we expect our students to do the same.

    Well written and my mouth is watering… mmm… cookies! I thought you would get a kick out of this little parody if you haven’t already seen it My kids love it too. 😀

    Thank you again for you post!


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