RDeWald on Thu, 10 Jul 2003 18:04:14 -0400

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [PLUG] Community Service Project (Devil's advocate)

Back in the day - Thursday 10 July 2003 05:00 pm, you e-mailed:
> I don't think that by supplying linux PC's will help
> much in finding a job for these kids, vs leaving the
> windows OS in place, and instead trying to get a low
> cost Star Office in place. Not that gnome isn't a
> windows environment and that there isn't software
> available. The majority of the jobs outthere that these
> kids will be trying to get in their near future will
> most likely be running a windows environment.

Well, I partially concur.  it really depends on what you want to teach them.  

I know a fair number of people in my organization that are widely considered "computer gurus" who couldn't search a comma delimited list without Excel and who have no idea what a regular expression is, much less why that's important.  They format their text documents with blank cr's, tabs and space characters, they send pretty pictures enbedded with their Outlook emails, and burn copies of music CD's for their friends.  In my organization, these people are considered stand-out power users who receive frequent and voluminous praise for their work in Windows and their "computer literacy" is valued in the job market.

If you want to turn out an army of these people, then Linux isn't the best OS choice.  Never try to teach a pig to sing.  It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

But, I never really understood English grammar until I learned Latin, and I never understood operating systems until I learned Linux (Slackware 2.6 if memory serves).  I cringe at the thought of what might have happened to me if I had just continued buying Windows licenses and thought that familiarity with the Windows control panel made me an computer expert.  I wouldn't know a thread from a cache, I would have never found Perl, and I'd be in with the rest of them trying to audit line data with pivot tables in Excel.

If you want to teach people about something deeper than how to burn metallica CD's and do a mail merge, then the fact that they use Linux at school and Windows in other environments may will help them understand things at a deeper level that facilitates more fundamental creativity in the long run.

The question "How can I get WIndows to do this?" has opened many a door for me.  Without Linux, I might have instead dismissed these problems with "This is impossible.  Computers don't do this."

Besides, the notion that education is merely a vehicle for training people to get jobs is overly reductive.  What about just teaching them to think?

I never use Latin and I constantly use Latin.  I never write it or read it anymore, but I parse my pretentious writing style constantly with the grammatical proficiency I acquired while learning to translate this "dead language" back to English.  An employer has never given a whit about my proficiency in Latin, yet my "excellent written communication skills" have been worth quite a lot.  Without Latin, I wouldn't know a participle if you dangled it....
Philadelphia Linux Users Group        --       http://www.phillylinux.org
Announcements - http://lists.netisland.net/mailman/listinfo/plug-announce
General Discussion  --   http://lists.netisland.net/mailman/listinfo/plug