In this festive season, we freely share our good cheer and, not to mention, our wealth with others. Sharing is the one of the most valued of human qualities. Our ability to share and work cooperatively is what distinguishes us from other species. It is what allows us to achieve and build great things.
When we are but mere toddlers, we quickly learn the concept of “mine!”. Our parents then teach us that it is good to share. However, along the way to adulthood, our capitalist society and perhaps our natural tendencies kick in to instill in us the importance of private property and exclusive rights. “Let’s share” reverts back to “Mine!”.
In our professional lives, should we freely share our ideas and work product? It, of course, depends on the situation and your personality. I have in the past encountered professors who take a very proprietary approach. They are extremely reluctant to share their ideas and their materials such as powerpoints and tests, unless there is a clear quid pro quo for them. I guess these professors somehow think that this approach gives them some kind of competitive advantage. It is all too easy to fall into the thinking that this kind of behaviour is the norm and preferred approach.
In contrast, at my current college, I freely share ideas, advice and materials with my colleagues, and vice-versa. Somehow, I think this collaborative approach benefits everyone: me, my colleagues, the college, and especially the students. It is far better than each of us working separately in isolation.
I freely share my thoughts and experiences through this blog. However, I admit that it is not an altogether altruistic exercise. What do I get in return? I certainly don’t make any money from this blog. This blog requires me to reflect on my approaches to teaching. It motivates me to develop and follow through on new ideas. I get feedback from other educational professionals. It provides a useful reference as a written journal. In other words, it helps me be a better educator.
Sharing is good. Merry Christmas and happy holidays.