Teachers selling their knowledge – A Parable

There is a discussion within the online teaching community world wide because of THIS recent N.Y. Times article about teachers selling their lesson plans/materials and making $$$. May the Best Teacher Win is a great response and correctly suggests we are asking the wrong questions. If interested further – read all the varying viewpoints on The Teacher’s Leader Network.

I have some strong opinions about this. I’ll relate them another time. Today, I’d only like to share a story to illustrate my stance. Find the meaning yourself from this parable.

Once upon a time, very recently, in the sub Sahara, there was a Tuareg tribesman of ambitious character.

He had been to the city and seen the shiny lights of Bamako. He’d spent lazy days along the banks of the mighty Niger.

In the city, this place of splendid future – he’d found on the banks of the river, the most miraculous of things – something called “a Playboy magazine”. Ah! What far away angels of beauty in that book! Women like honey! A piece of heaven on earth!

Soon his time in the city had run out. Alas, he was a trader, he had to keep moving.

So as he traveled, he’d approach the men in other caravans to share his wonderful “goods”. The first man he showed the pictures to asked him,
“How much?”
“What”, he replied. “What do you mean, how much?”.
The man retorted, “I’ll give you 5 francs for that one – that page!”. The man couldn’t believe his good fortune – people would actually pay for this!

The man traveled and sold his pages but as his book got smaller, he demanded a higher and higher price. Soon, he was selling quarter pictures of women, an arm or even just a leg sometimes for 10 francs! Of course faces were more, sometimes 40 francs.

One day, his book was empty. There were no more pictures to sell. He had to go back to Bamako to get another. So he did. And this time he learned of the photocopier and digital images. Also, the internet and password access. He set about creating an empire. Today, he has the largest house, on the highest and most prominent bank of the river Niger.

And in the evenings, far out in the desert, the dogs bark and the caravans pass. The men pour tea and laugh around their fires.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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