Friday 26 December 2014

Copyright education in schools:a riposte

Earlier this month, the 1709 Blog hosted this guest piece by Andreas Rahmatian ("Copyright education in schools as a consumer awareness scheme: a comment"), on which we have now received the following response from IP educationalist and activist Ruth Soetendorp who writes:
It is hard to imagine a group of eminent professors of art, music, or theology agreeing that their subjects should be dropped from the school syllabus because it is impossible for the classroom curriculum to deliver them with the depth and rigour they are accorded in the university. Yet an eminent IP law academic (Dr Andreas Rahmatian) proposes that Intellectual Property should never make it into the classroom for just such a reason.

IP education has developed considerably
since the old days of the 1980s
Intellectual Property education has come a long way since Bill Cornish first produced those 'samizdat'-style typed cases and materials books in the early '80s. IP law has developed a healthy international jurisprudence, at the same time as a respectable literature focusing on the legal, economic, social, political, philosophical and business management aspects of IP. IP is the focus of prestigious research centres across the globe.

But that is not all. At the same time, there is emerging a growing awareness of the practical significance of IP in everyday life, and especially for people in business, whether as managers, strategists, innovators or entrepreneurs. Such people are not looking to be IP experts. They are looking to be more confident in taking the initial steps to protect their own IP and avoid infringing the IP of others. They want to be more at ease with the language and concepts of IP, in order to be more easily able to dialogue with IP experts.

University students recognise the significance of IP in their future careers, as the recent NUS research established. They want to know more about it. Seeing a class of primary schoolchildren ten years ago in Foshan, China presenting their take on trade marks to a WIPO delegation was a revelation. Those 11 year olds were able to share their understanding of the impact of esoteric trade mark concepts on themselves, their families and business. They were expected to use what they had learnt to influence their own parents in the significance of IP.

Copyright education is beginning to filter into the classroom, not least because all classrooms use online resources, which in turn introduce issues of ownership and permission. But copyright education is NOT a full IP education. IP education includes introducing the notion of patents for inventions, of rights to protect designs and of trade marks on which to build brands. Getting all those into the school syllabus won't be easy, because there is no natural ‘accelerator’ amongst education policy makers to do so.

'Frere Jacques' on the recorder, finger-painting, and the nativity play enable children to take their first steps into the worlds of music, art and theology. We should not resist trying to find their IP equivalent.

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