| |

Borrowed Feathers


We all know about Englipedia, right? I mean, we’ve all been here for at least eleven months at this point, so I can’t imagine I’m popping anyone’s monocle by talking about it. If you didn’t know about it until now…good for you, I guess? Welcome to the cheaters’ table.

Except is it cheating? I don’t know. I really don’t. Certainly, it can’t be that bad to just look up lesson ideas on there, can it? Just to get the benefit of shared wisdom? Isn’t it irresponsible to NOT take a gander at what other people have done when teaching the same grammar points just in case they’re better at this than I am? Don’t my students deserve that?

Yes. Yes, they do. But that is different from taking a worksheet wholesale from the site.

If you’re like me, you get an uneasy feeling whenever you steal use one of their worksheets, but then I get an uneasy feeling when I take a number to wait in line at the bank. I think I just need to adjust to being an adult.

And it’s not stealing in the most basic sense as whoever first designed the worksheet still has what they made, it’s just that now I have it too. It’s more akin to sharing and people always tell me that that’s good. And they put it up in the first place, so clearly they wanted me to have it– it’s like when people leave stuff out on the street for others to take, and that’s how I got like half the stuff I own.

Could one claim it was like stealing in an intellectual property sense? Maybe. I’m using someone else’s creation in a commercial context. I am being paid for deploying someone else’s brainchild. But I’m not fluffing my plume with borrowed feathers as no one has said ever. I don’t claim the worksheets as my own if the teachers ask (they very seldom do). However, I am loathe to reveal their source; I don’t want them to know that most of my ideas are available online and just how eminently replaceable I really am. If they started reading the texts into one of those apps that make you sound like Prince Charles, I doubt the students would even notice I’m missing.

I think one of the reasons I feel like I’m cheating is because I’ve already prided myself as being creative and thus believe that I should be able to make such things on my own. On the other hand, I’ve also always prided myself as being someone who enjoys playing Pokémon and using Englipedia worksheets gives me more time to do that of an evening, so to which side of myself should I be true?

Of course, the teachers get a great deal of their material from a book; they’re always using the same source which they didn’t write. They go to conferences and swap ideas and their versions of the textbook have the answers written in them. And I highly doubt that they all developed the same rules and catchphrases for “Simon Says” independently. On top of this, the more established teachers have a ready-made bag of tricks from which to pull a lesson or a fill-in-the-blanks. My mother taught Spanish for forty years and used the same worksheets and classroom materials again and again, year after year only changing if one of the actors she’d cut out of a magazine died. And yet, for some reason, I feel I should be held to a higher standard. Or, perhaps more accurately, I fear I am duty-bound to a higher standard because of the sweetness of my life: I’m not made to do many of the things that make a teacher’s life truly awful, surely I should at least make my own worksheets?

Englipedia certainly makes my job easier and my job is already pretty easy and it may elicit a token twinge of guilt in me, but I still use their worksheets all the time. I never really planned to stop: I’m not doing anything illegal or even against the description of my job and it saves me time. I mostly wrote this article as a way of assuaging some of the pangs. In this case, as per usual, feeling uneasy is a waste of time and energy– as my lawyer keeps telling me, “bad vibes are not admissible in court” and also “you didn’t have an umbrella when you came in.”


Rory Kelly

Similar Posts