26 April 2014


Back in December 2012, I wrote a post entitled "Too many cooks spoil the net". The basic gist of it was that people are so keen to share everything that the internet is flooded with redundant and suboptimal resources, making it very difficult to identify the really useful stuff. When I was prepping a lesson on sports a few weeks ago, I went onto the net to search, and I came to a lesson plan uploaded with the following blurb:
I have a lesson coming up tomorrow and I thought I would share this lesson that I have created over the evening.
This one sentence captures the problem beautifully: what we're looking at isn't a carefully considered, well thought out piece of work, but something basically thrown together the night before like any teacher can do. This is surely what much of the material on the net is.

Is such work really worthy of sharing? How much time does it save us as teachers to have such resources available? Is it worth it? In the end, we either spend as much time searching for something suitable as we would have spent writing our own resource, or we take the first thing we find without fully evaluating its effectiveness. Either way, we end up producing something that results in a worse experience for our students, and if we can't do the best by our students, why are we even trying?

So I have a particular beef with the site ESLprintables.com. There seems to be a fair amount of good material on the site, but I have never been able to use it, because the policy there is that you can't download anything if you haven't uploaded anything. Really, who benefits from that policy? Do you really want a bunch of inexperienced gap year teachers flooding you with poor quality worksheets and drowning out the good stuff in the process? And are the people who are capable of producing good resources really going to be interested in using other people's materials rather than the stuff they've been refining and improving over the course of their careers? The whole thing seems like an exercise in futility to me.

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