Sunday, April 28, 2013

What's The Deal About Teaching?

As it came up again yesterday I thought today I would post my feelings about teaching....this is why I don't care to teach anymore and why I don't permit teaching of my designs.  Your opinion may differ.

After teaching for a few years and quitting teaching a couple of times due to the demands of the stores I taught in and frankly a group of beaders who seemed to think if they paid $10 for a class it meant I would drive to their house anytime they wished to give them extra private tuition. And, no, I am not kidding.

As the years have past (barely five now) I have learned a lot about myself. I am a designer/inventor.  It's my love, my drive.
Teaching is very time consuming and while I can enjoy teaching a class of advanced beaders someone asking me "What is peyote stitch?" in a class stresses me to panic levels.  I used to have the patience to teach basic stitches but it flew away.

So, designing, illustrating and writing tutorials is what I do now.
Will I ever teach again, never say never, but any student signing up would have to know the stitches in the project or they'd just get handed a basic stitch sheet, some beads and be told to! 

Ok...teaching of my designs.
Quite simply I don't allow I'm told I can't stop someone as long as they are using an authentic tutorial, ie one purchased from me or they have their own copy of a magazine project by me.  
I will argue this point as I don't believe teaching someone else's work is "Fair Use" as it means someone else is making money from my hard work and if I decide to teach then they're in direct competition with me. Or should I sell a license to teach, once again I'd be losing money.  

Whether it's legal or not its highly unethical to use someone else's work to make your money especially when it's against the wishes of the designer.
If you are teaching someone else's designs without their permission you have to ask yourself this question:
"Why don't I design my own projects, write my own tutorials  and teach them?"
If your answer is "I don't have the talent" or "It takes too much time" or "I don't have the name to get me students" or "I won't make enough to pay for all the time it would take to do that"

Then you need to go to the mirror and take a good, honest look at yourself, that is one very unethical person you're best!

Next....why don't I sell a license for someone to teach my designs?
This one is a matter of trust. I don't trust people, I have many, many reasons not to trust people.  I have people say, "But you know me" and I have to say....I knew my father too, didn't stop him from taking from me.  And I won't go into the number of 'friends' that have taken from me.

Trust is important when it comes to allowing someone to teach your work.
#1 you have to trust that they know the design well enough to be able to teach it.
#2 You have to trust that they do supply every student with a tutorial so they can finish the project.
#3 you have to trust them with your tutorial...that they won't go print off as many copies as they like, and when someone says..."I don't have time for the class can I buy the pattern" that they say "No, I'm not permitted to do that you can buy it directly from the designer, here's their shop info" and not just sell it them and put the money in their pocket.

That's a lot of trust.

I did come up with the idea to do a "Teachers" workshop, where I would teach three or four designs that the students would be authorized to teach after the workshop.  That seemed like a practical solution, I'd be able to look into the eyes of the person I'd be trusting with my designs and make sure they knew all the ins and out of the designs.  However, when I mentioned this on Facebook I was met with a lot of people telling me how they would prefer I did, no workshop, no restrictions, they could choose what designs they wanted. There was even mention of forming a committee to decide how I would run my, no!
So, that idea went into the trash can.

So as it stands at this moment no one has my permission to teach my designs.

One thing I am working on....bead store adoption....because it isn't easy running a bead store, especially a bricks and mortar one.
I have already started working with an online store,
I met Sherry who runs it and we got along great, discovered we approached business the same way and when she became sole owner of Beadstalkers I knew I wanted to offer as much support as I could.
I do list Beadstalkers as a bead supplier in my tutorials when using the beads Sherry carries and she in turn will stock specific colors/beads I
When Sherry showed me her bracelet design which became "Pyramids of Giza" I knew another way I could help, so I am now putting together a tutorial a month of her designs which she offers free with bead purchase or for sale.

For my bricks and mortar store, I chose Bead Artistry, which is just a couple of blocks away, I am in process of going through my designs to see which I think would work as classes....and then Bead Artistry will choose a few that they want to teach, and I'll make sure they know all the ins and outs.

I just handed in a Clasp tutorial to be taught by someone else at the bead society too....and sometimes I am willing to do things like that for bead societies.

I do think it's important for us to support each other in the beading community, yesterday I heard of another store closure and that made me sad.
As a designer I do have to make a living from my work and I do feel that by permitting people to sell what they make from my tutorials I am helping them make an income....but I draw the line at people teaching my designs and I hope people respect that. The ethical will. The unethical won't. Just like having laws, the decent respect and abide by them, the criminals don't.

Eventually the law will catch up, I do believe that, but what is a law?
Something a group decides is a rule to be followed or be really, if the bead designers could agree and get together on this we could make law. It only takes one case in our favor to set a precedent.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Just argued on the issue tonight, as a matter of fact. Just because it isn't illegal to teach someone else's design doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

    Teaching beadweaving, to me, indicates an expert in the field. Someone who knows the subject matter really well and is capable. If you can't think up your own designs, you shouldn't be teaching!

    It seems lately there are squads of "entitled" buyers who think that it's perfectly fine to be unethical because it's not illegal. Have some self respect! :)

  2. Hear, hear!
    What makes me sad is designer's who are on the side of the folks who teach without permission, they are encouraging something that takes money/devalues their colleague's and their own work. Does not make sense to me.
    Unethical things tend to eventually be outlawed, we know this. All it takes to create change is rallying together for the greater good....but it seems like there's a 'don't rock the boat' mentality. Has me shaking my head so much I look like a bobble head.

  3. I understand some of what you say; however, I purchased Microsoft Office Suite. I did not write the program. I teach others how to use it, they, in turn, use it to create PowerPoint presentations, letters, pamphlets etc. and make their stuff. Sort of the same thing to me as purchasing a pattern. I paid for it, it is mine to use as I see fit even if that is teaching it to others.

  4. Well...let's look at that, Leola.
    Is that something Microsoft promotes/allows?
    Do those students purchase their own Microsoft Office Suite? Which is a few hundred dollars. right?
    I would think it would be in Microsoft's interest to have someone teach a program that someone has to buy in order to do their own work. However, if you teach my tutorial that's it....that person isn't going to come and buy from me after the fact is she? You're taking money away from me and it isn't "Fair Use" under the legal statute.
    There are designers out there who do offer teaching licenses and if you really want to teach someone else's design...there are options out there. I highly recommend people do that.
    It's all about ethics....if you have them...or if you don't.

  5. Ok...another point....what's the product your student creates at the end of your teaching them? It's whatever they want it to be right?
    You're not teaching them to create their own 'Office Suite'.

  6. I teach either my own designs or ones that I have permission from the Designer to teach. Others I know just teach designs out of the magazines and feel that it is OK to do that.

  7. Sadly people do think it's ok to teach from magazines. It isn't.
    And these same people tend to make copies of a project from the magazine and that's illegal. If you ever see someone making a copy of a project please remind them of the legalities.
    It's really simple....if you're making money from something you didn't create then make sure you have all the proper permissions and licenses.

  8. I know this and I believe that the others do too. I don't feel it is my place to say anything as it is up to the store owner. She doesn't seem to have a problem with it. I don't want to alienate the other teachers or come across as snobby. I just do my thing and hope that the ladies who take my classes see the difference. ( not always). If there was another store to teach in I would leave but there isn't and this is a good income stream for me. A dilemma to be sure!! BTW well known national instructors teach there too!!

  9. It's sad that bead store owners don't get it or just don't care. My thing about adopting bead a bead store is part of me doing my little bit to change things.

  10. As a writer and artist, I have to admit that I find this attitude amongst professional very snobby. As with ideas in written form, ideas in bead form (or mosaic or wood or any medium) are not proprietary. It is a sad artist indeed that is not flattered and happy when his or her designs are copied or improved upon. Also as a teacher, good teachers that don't judge their students are very rare.

    1. Good teachers don't copy others' works. However, since you don't mind, maybe we should all go copy your work and make money from your hard work without your knowledge and without compensating you. It's not snobby to protect your livelihood. And, wow, hate to tell you, but "ideas in written form" are most definitely proprietary. Copyright. Heard of it?

      However, as an artist, I can come up with my own, original ideas and not leach off other peoples' creativity. If you can't design your own work, you shouldn't be teaching. It's pretty cut and dry here.

  11. you not believe in copyright?
    Are you saying that as an artist you have no problem with someone taking a piece of your art and making giclees and selling them....and you would get nothing from it?
    Say you did a mosaic and you wrote a tutorial on it...and that's your sole income ...someone decides they can make money on it and sets up a class using your tutorial that they happily print out for all their students and they make money teaching. You're ok with that? That's flattery to you? Thinking along that could work at a job and give your paycheck to someone who didn't do the work. So, if you feel that way....please, pass your paycheck over to me.


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