Play is emulation, copying. It is natural for kids. Teach emulation. Teach copying. Teach attribution. End the cycle of plagiarism. Teach copyright through the lens of common culture.

Children copy routinely. I don’t just mean they copy from encyclopedia articles for class. I mean, they copy the behavior of others. They copy the clothes their friends wear. They copy the swear words they’ve heard their parents use. They smoke because it is “cool.” Cool is simply a term that says “I’ll do that, too, because that other dude does it.”

You should try to write so everyone will want to copy what you’ve said.

Get pdf of page: http://runeman.org/mosssig/fairuse.pdf (US Letter size poster)

It is natural to want to emulate our heroes. We crave to have at least their style.

I followed a Twitter link to this article by a teacher:
http://opensource.com/education/11/1/adventures-copyright
I recommend that every educator read it and think about the issue seriously.

“After school got out, I had to zip across the street to the public library. While I was there, I figured I’d ask some of the questions my kids had about copyright to the librarians. While they couldn’t provide much for answers besides “It’s education so you should be good to go,” they were extremely impressed that I’m digging into copyright with my kids and not just pretending like it doesn’t exist. Besides just feeling like it’s hard to “teach” my kids about copyright because I don’t know much about it and there seems to be so much gray involved, I hadn’t thought about how I would be doing them a disservice by ignoring it altogether.

Today really convinced me that I need to trudge on. Besides these two projects this quarter, we’re going to hit research really hard fourth quarter. I think by then, the kids will really be ready to embrace creator rights. My goal is for them to choose their own CC licenses for whatever it is they create.”

As a teacher, embrace copying, encourage emulation and attribution. Demonstrate to students that plagiarism isn’t the same thing as celebrating our culture through emulation.

Teachers, you are the path to success for your students, or you are the blockade against which they will beat their heads. Show your students how open sharing is good. Honorable collaboration and seeking advice should be what you present. Be honest. You don’t need to know all the answers, so be willing to admit “I don’t know, but let’s find out.”

Then when you have the answer, credit the source.

If you create worksheets, study guides, classroom directions, any teaching tool, openly publish it with a liberal license. Creative Commons provides several. Let your students know you are doing it. Let the parents know you are doing it. Let your students learn to value their culture. Maybe some of them will copy what you do.

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