[discuss] linux in education thread

> I hear what you are saying, but without other staff from the same
> school backing this up then it becomes a matter of your word against
> someone elses. The superintendent was already told something quite
> different.

This is why I prefer email. Discussions by voice are often
misinterpreted, reworded, misconstrued, etc. Unfortunately, it seems
rather difficult to get answers to anything from administrators by
Further, my main goal is the education of students, who need these
skills for their future. If the board wishes to employ me to educate
teachers (which they do have, by the way, known by various titles such
as `Instructional Leader`, etc.), I am open to that, but they
instructional leaders are chosen, of course, on the basis of their MS
knowledge, rather than generic skills, understanding of computer
technology regardless of one particular brand,etc...sigh...

> What I see going on here is that you are outnumbered by other fellow
> teachers at your school who either disagree with you (a very few I
> suspect) or that simply don't care (likely the vast majority).

And this is why, after 5 years, students should be denied an education
that affects their future?! Again, I have been teaching students for
5 years using linux. Teachers are not the problem. Administrative
decisions are the problem, based on faulty information, which I have
attempted to correct, but it is like talking to a wall...

> To have anything change we need to turn this around. I apologize,
> but I don't see it the way you do. You appear to blame the the
> province, board, and your principal for doing things to ban FLOSS in the
> classroom. I see it as a majority of teaching staff not yet being aware
> of the importance of software which is not only cheaper to use, but
> demonstrates the future of the knowledge economy: peer production and
> peer distribution.

I see it as shutting down and replacing a heavily used linux lab, an
ongoing system with a record of 5 years, with an CTMI/MS lab, based on
the misinformation provided to the principal by one teacher. Indeed,
the principal made the decision to close the lab. His reasoning
should be stated, in writing, including the information he was given
from other sources, for the benefit of the public, students education
that will now be adversely affected, etc.

> > As previously mentioned, I find no reason for
> > why choice cannot be encouraged.
> They can be encouraged, but the boards being amalgamated means they
> can't be supported by the board.

I find this excuse which is constantly brought out to be bizarre. How
is it that schools and boards around the world can do this, but the
TDSB cannot?

> > I do not support MS machines, problems,
> > etc. (.i.e.I do not work for, get paid by, MS, etc. hence I do not
> > use/support their software/problems, etc.) And have made that known.
> I don't either, but I have the option to switch to customers who only
> demand the services that I offer. In your case this would mean moving
> to a school that had the in-school support (other teachers, etc) for
> FLOSS in the classroom. It is far easier for me to not support
> non-FLOSS than it is for you.
> BTW: I'm not specific about Microsoft. For me Microsoft is just the
> most successful non-FLOSS company. I equally don't touch MacOS
> computers, and in many areas such as promotion of DRM I find Apple to be
> worse than Microsoft.
> > So perhaps this is the real root of the problem, among others.
> I don't follow what you are suggesting. You don't support
> (technically or morally) Microsoft. But you are one teacher among many
> in your school, and if the other teaching staff either disagrees with
> you or doesn't care then there is nothing you (or I) can do to have
> decisions made that facilitate your support of FLOSS in the classroom.

I find the constant reference to what teachers, the board and admin
think, to be symptomatic of the real problems here...my reasons for
the lab are student centered, student education centered, student
future centered, not management centered, or staff centered, etc.
(Incidentally, I find most of the reasons to be management centered,
and they do not stand up, since other boards/schools/etc. around the
world I am sure have similar problems, but they seem to have no
problem moving ahead without whining about things such as ` we can`t
do that...amalgamation you know...`

> > So, technically competent, computer science teachers who wish to have
> > a linux lab, despite their colleagues which show no interest and very
> > little interest in computers in general, are to deny their students
> > this opportunity?
> Your problem is not unique to computer science teaching. There are
> many curriculum areas that teachers have decided to make controversial
> that have similar problems.
> I know of Biology teachers who are Creationists who have been told
> that either they teach Evolution or they can't teach the Biology courses
> that include that as a unit.

Ummm... I do not believe that religious issues are remotely connected
to choosing the best tool to accomplish a job. This is more like
insisting that everyone will use board supplied expensive crayons for
all written tasks, despite the fact that oh, say, free ball point pens
are available, but they are not supported by the board...board
supplied MS/CTMI computers are crude, imprecise, error prone,
unreliable tools, as compared to freely available, reliable, precise
linux tools :-)

> Note: I consider "software manufacturing" to be to FLOSS as "alchemy"
> was to science, and that the movement to FLOSS is the same as the
> enlightenment was to science. Unfortunately the reality is that when it
> comes to software we still live in the dark ages, and those of us that
> support the next step in the evolution of the knowledge economy have to
> fight those who really do believe the world is flat.

I tend to agree with the above. But the only way we will move out of
the dark ages is similar to what happened in the past, i.e. decision
makers are held responsible for their decisions, required to publicly
justify their decisions/choices, etc., made without public
consultation. Otherwise, the status quo will remain.

> > As previously mentioned, I would think that competent computer science
> > teachers who wish to provide this opportunity for students would
> > receive support from all quarters. So, using the reasoning above, I
> > will suggest that MS labs be shut down, since I am opposed to seeing
> > them collect dust, and the constant problems with ones that are in
> > some use.
> If you get the support of a majority of the rest of the teaching
> staff in your school, I am certain that what you are asking for would
> happen.

This happened 5 years ago without any support, majority, etc. Why is
suddenly required now? Yet another excuse/grasping at straws, etc.

> Unfortunately I get the impression from you that you don't have the
> support from other teaching staff. This is a serious problem that we
> need to work to resolve.

Why? Has not been a concern/problem for 5 years. It would be nice to
have, certainly, but I am more concerned about the future prospects of
students, and preparing them for the future, rather than the past.
e.g. Windows 2000...

> > people, students who appear to have been chosen to make negative
> > comments above linux software, I would think to most people, is
> > ludicrous.
> What negative or incorrect statements did they make? What incorrect
> or negative statements do you feel that Jacob Chan made?

Personally, I had met with 2 students last year and encouraged them to
use Linux to run software inside the schools. I was told that Linux
could not support all software in use. If we have to support both Linux
and Microsoft, then we have to duplicate many technology components,
license management and support.

>>CTMI does not support all software in use. Please publicly detail
these results >>of these two students. That is a ludicrously small
sample. How would you >>explain the MILLIONS of students around the
world who do seem to be able to >>do what they wish to do?

The above is part of an original message sent to trustees when they
consulted Mr. Chan. My response above, though brutal, is based on my
use of, for example, Klogic, a digital simulator for KDE, which does
not have a Windows/Mac version. Further, Mr. Chan has not provided
any further information about this or other `studies`, etc.

> Is any of this in writing? If not, then there is nothing that can be
> done about it as he could just deny that he said it, or claim that you
> misinterpreted him.
Precisely, which is why I have a public, written blog. Other than
phone conversations, do you have anything in writing from the
administrators, Mr. Chan, etc.? Hmmm...I wonder why not...

> > Agreed, but perhaps I will start making videos of unused, dark
> > computer classrooms, and put those on the net...
> That would be one good way of documenting things. Then parents/etc
> can ask the principal and superintendent to respond to what is seen in
> these videos.
> > And how do you define enough? I have heard from many CS teachers, who
> > are the tech people who do initiate new technology into schools, who
> > want to run linux labs, but are constantly given a stream of
> > reasons/excuses of why it cannot be done.
> These need to be teachers in the *same* school. If you have only one
> teacher in each school then nothing can be done as there is likely at
> least one other teacher mis-informing the principals about what is going on.

And why not? Our school has one French teacher, one music teacher,
etc. If one teacher can provide a valuable, worldwide experience with
software, then why not?
Or one might consider the above argument in the same light, such as
`the German teacher says that we should only teach board approved
German in schools, even if there is someone who can teach French, or
whatever`, or `the principal insists that the music teacher use only
board approved flutes and that everyone play the flute, even though a
piano teacher is available, will bring his own keyboard, sheet music,

> > I think provincial policy
> > should be supporting use of linux wherever there are the people who
> > want to/will implement it, such as myself, (and others who have been
> > discouraged).
> You don't like software being imposed on you, and you should
> understand why other teaching staff wouldn't like it either. The last
> thing you want is to turn a majority of Ontario teachers into volunteer
> lobbiests for Microsoft.

And this is precisely a point I continue to repeat! Let teachers use
whatever tools they feel comfortable with! If they want to use MS
junk, fine. If they want to use Macs, fine. If they want to use
linux, fine! I am the minority being discriminated against by the
majority, backed up by computer illiterate decision makers.
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