Mahesh T. Pai wrote:
[true state of affairs]
Mahesh, after reading your response, I was reminded of the words of
two great saints:
"I have not conceived my mission to be that of a knight-errant
wandering everywhere to deliver people from difficult situations.
My humble occupation has been to show people how they can solve
their own difficulties." - Mahatma Gandhi
Minds without Fear:
Where the mind is without fear and
the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into
fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection:
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is lead forward by thee into
ever-widening thought and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
let my country awake.
Mahatma Gandhi also said, "If, after the coming of Swaraj the people
of India will keep on looking to the government for regulating every
detail of their lives, then that Swaraj will be meaningless."
The Free Software Movement is one of the greatest Voluntary actions in
recent history, that has brought in visible changes, and we can really
hope that this sharing will lead us into the space of freedom Tagore
could only dreamed of.
There are many hurdles, but they could be overcome. One problem is
that we have too many competing education streams: State Board,
Matriculation, CBSE, ICSE, along with others, and these divisions can
easily dissipate any attempts to streamline the system of education.
Here, the Director of Matriculation Schools, under the Govt. of TN has
proposed the inclusion of Computer Science as a subject for students
from III Standard and X Standard, and the proposed syllabus is
Traditionally, the Matriculation Schools in TN have good
ifrastructure, teaching staff and curriculum. A lot of effort appears
to have gone into preparing the matriculation school curriculum, and
it is truly commendable that it has been made available online
requesting for feedback to raise the standards of education.
Reading the material on CS reminded me of my days back in school.
Those of us from CBSE schools can recall the SUPW Classes: Boys had EG
- Electrical Gadgets and girls could opt for Sewing - where learning
was by doing things. My first EG class started with "Properties of
Magnets", and our teacher brought a couple of bar magnets to class and
taught us that magnets have two poles - North and South, like poles
repel, unlike poles attract, did a demo with the magnets, then passed
the magnets around the class letting us try it. Later, electric
bulbs, batteries, transformers, resistors and capacitors entered into
the class: but all these were referred to only by their generic names
and we were taught about their general properties. Brand or vendor
names were used only to compare market prices, quality and suitability
for use. [BTW, SUPW is short for Socially Useful Productive Work]
Magnets have another property: It is easy to "copy" and "make"
magnet by stroking. Sharing free software is as easy and lossless like
sharing or making magnets. Students could be easily encouraged to
share code and work together on projects.
I wish that the whole school curriculum is based and built around
SUPW. Free Software is the way to go if we desire to have a society
where children are taught to be independent, resourceful, productive,
co-operative, rational, intelligent and socially responsible.
Computer Science is fairly mature, qualifies as a good vocational
subject, and has evolved standards and specifications that are vendor
neutral. Lessons taught under Computer Science should be given
general titles like word-processing, spreadsheets, database
management, operating systems, file management, programming etc. The
matriculation syllabus needs corrections, and should use subject
headings like "Database Systems" instead of "Microsoft Access",
"Word Processing" instead of "Microsoft Word".
Broadly, Computing could be taught at two levels: Upto 10th standard,
it may be appropriate to teach "Computer Applications" - whereby
students become proficent _users_ of computer applications: anything
from graphical processing tools like gimp to word processing,
spreadsheets etc, with an elementary grounding in programming through
basic, bash [free software tool: bwbasic] and some scripting languages
"Computer Science" may be suitable for higher secondary classes, where
the focus could be on learning C, system administration and other
aspects of the science with depths suitable for their level. Of
course, free software philosophy highlighting the virtues of sharing
and respect for ethical values could permeate every level.
Some of this was shared at the ILUGC list, and, we could also send
feedback as requested by the Director of Matriculation Schools, even
though we have crossed the due date, as the proposed syllabus is to be
introduced only in stages from 2005, so that the Computer Science
subject could be truly and honestly taught as a SCIENCE.
The Free Software Movement has contributed several thousand useful
applications. With little effort from more volunteers, we could make
the free software wealth reach everyone.
Thanks to the divisions in school systems, we have to repeat the
exercise, wherever these bugs exist, until they are fixed :)