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When Teachers Are Obstacles To Linux In Education

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the height-of-ignorance dept.

Education 1589

jamie found this blog post up on the HeliOS Project, which brings Linux to school kids in Austin, TX. It makes very clear some of the obstacles that free software faces in the classroom. It seems a teacher came upon a student demonstrating Linux to other kids and handing out LiveCDs. The teacher confiscated the CDs and wrote an angry email to HeliOS's founder, Ken Starks: "Mr. Starks, I am sure you strongly believe in what you are doing but I cannot either support your efforts or allow them to happen in my classroom. At this point, I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful. ... This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all. I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older version of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them..." Starks pens an eloquent reply, which contains a factoid I have not seen mentioned before: "The fact that you seem to believe that Microsoft is the end all and be-all is actually funny in a sad sort of way. Then again, being a good NEA member, you would spout the Union line. Microsoft has pumped tens of millions of dollars into your union. Of course you are going to 'recommend' Microsoft Windows."

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Let's cut the conspiracy theory (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057613)

I don't think it's worth attributing the teacher's support of Windows to some kind of fanatical support of union directives. From postal workers to teachers, truckers to plumbers, in my admittedly anecdotal experience I've found that the average professional has very little clue about his union's sources of funds and its goals.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (4, Insightful)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057655)

Yes, but they don't go around confiscating discs, and writing strongly worded letters. This sounds like it actually came from Steve can-i-have-that-chair-for-a-minute Ballmer.

Is anyone else reminded of the religous teacher confiscating a biology book from a student, and writing a letter to their pro-evolution parents?

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (5, Interesting)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057833)

I recently had a conversation with a recently retired friend of mine.

He barely uses the net- I think he has an email address with his ISP and that's about it.

He was complaining about how everything was so expensive and how he's had to pay for some antivirus software after their old computer got infected with something. etc.

I ask: "why didn't you just get some free one?"
His response: "There's so such thing as a free lunch! Either it's stolen or they'll be cheating you somehow"
I then tried to explain about linux and FOSS but he had grown up with the solid idea that nothing worth having is ever free unless you're being scammed in some way.
He could not be convinced that FOSS was legal and genuinely free. There had to be a catch. There had to be a law being broken.

This attitude is common with the older generation who aren't used to the net. "Free" rings alarm bells and this is an issue I rarely hear mention of when people talk about the problems linux has spreading.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (5, Insightful)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057945)

Ask him if mathematic formula are free, or if there was some crime behind them too...

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (1)

DrHyde (134602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058021)

I hope you always charge this nincompoop for helping him. After all, if you help him for free, there has to be a catch, there has to be a law being broken. And I don't mean just helping him with his computer. Charge him for helping him trim his garden hedge, for helping clear snow from his drive, for keeping an eye on his house when he's away, ...

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26058033)

He could not be convinced that FOSS was legal and genuinely free. There had to be a catch. There had to be a law being broken.

He must have heard of IBM. Just mention that a large part of their business is based on FOSS.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (4, Insightful)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057675)

I don't think it's worth attributing the teacher's support of Windows to some kind of fanatical support of union directives.

I think in the anecdote in question you can attribute the whole incident to an ignorant teacher. Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is not spread through unions, it is most often spread through one's disinterest in self education. My guess is that educators are no less immune to this disinterest than any one else.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (1, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057771)

The question is how a retard like this can become a teacher in the first place?

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (0, Flamebait)

Archtech (159117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057927)

That the teacher is ignorant is amply demonstrated by her own words.

"I called a confrence with the student..." Apart from the typo, teachers do not have "conferences" with students. They simply talk with them.

"...the claims you make are grossly over-stated and hinge on falsehoods". I am pretty sure she meant "verge on falsehoods", but couldn't quite find the right word.

"I admire your attempts in getting computers in the hands of disadvantaged people..." Again, not very good English.

None of these are "hanging offences", but as a professional editor I recognize the symptoms of a rather weak grasp of English. Such a person should not be teaching others.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (5, Interesting)

daniorerio (1070048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057683)

It's still less ignorant than what this teacher is saying. Maybe this teacher has no clue how the union is funded, it doesn't mean that millions of MS advertising dollars are at work doing a fine job here...

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (3, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058031)

And still - does that give the teacher the right to confiscate something that's not criminal to possess?

If I was a parent then I would at least file a complaint with the school. If they didn't respond in a responsible manner then it would have been time for legal action.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (4, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057709)

That's what I thought at first. Then I read the full letter. I have a hard time believing that someone who actually installed and tried linux in college would believe it was illegal. If the teacher thought it was some sort of install party for pirated versions of windows, well she was right in what she did and was just ignorant of the facts but then she goes on to say that she understand what linux is, to have tried and installed it. How could she be uninformed to the point of saying that no software is free and that linux is illegal ?

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (1, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057815)

I had to RTFA now after you using "she" and saying that she had used it.

And yes, when you read the whole mail it's quite obvious it's just a troll, no-one can be that retarded, and there's no chance in hell she's actually used it but believe that it would be illegal.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (2, Insightful)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057863)

Actually, I have had some teachers of the sort who would be perfectly uninformed and have just the right temperament to write an e-mail that idiotic, so I could very well believe it isn't a troll.

Cygwin? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057933)

It could be a troll, yes, but I don't think it's a given.

What if the "Linux" she had used was, say, Cygwin? If the letter isn't a troll, then it's quite clear that whatever it was she used, she didn't pay it a great deal of attention.

She sits down at a friend's computer, sees Cygwin running, asks what it is, and tunes out after about four seconds. Hears POSIX. Hears Unix. Hears Linux. Doesn't really care, minimizes Cygwin, sees the Windows desktop, and does what she came to. (For fun, I'll assume it's using Word to type a paper while her nerd-friend cleans Bonzi Buddy off her PC. Alternatively, she could be using Word while her friend replaces OS/2 with Windows on her PC, given her a permanent distaste for alternate OS's.)

Ten years later, she sees the kid passing out the disks, some old memories dust themselves off---and she draws her conclusions. "Linux" ran on top of Windows. This kid says his disks have everything you need, and you don't have to buy Windows. Alarm bells go off.

Her student's passing out software that to her mind must inherently include stolen Windows code, and it's not even software that's useful to schoolkids.

Lot of conjecture in this post, I admit, but I don't think it's impausible. People really do tend to think this way.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (4, Funny)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057817)

That's what I thought at first. Then I read the full letter. I have a hard time believing that someone who actually installed and tried linux in college would believe it was illegal. If the teacher thought it was some sort of install party for pirated versions of windows, well she was right in what she did and was just ignorant of the facts but then she goes on to say that she understand what linux is, to have tried and installed it.

Makes you wonder what else she tried at college illegal or otherwise ;)

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26058037)

How could she be uninformed to the point of saying that no software is free and that linux is illegal ?

Because she interned at SCO?

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (2, Insightful)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057711)

True. Besides, the staggering level of sadness Ken Starks expresses is almost as comical as the teacher's overjealousness. Both of them are missing the point. Linux or Windows will both do the job and then some when it comes to educating kids. Starks and the teacher trying to indoctrinate the kids into their respective camps is what's harmful.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (4, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057845)

Starks was handing out discs at a school? I thought it was a co-student (as stated in the stub, so no Ring of TFM necessary) and Starks had no prior contact with the institution, or its representatives, before that time.

Starks didn't try and indoctrinate anybody. You're talking rubbish.

MOD parent up. (1, Redundant)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057993)

Hear, hear! Answering with a rant about how unions and MS are in bed together does nothing to releive this woman of her ignorance.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (-1, Troll)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057747)

Just prosecute the teacher for theft or better yet kill him, done.

It's not like the teacher is allowed to take his property even if it would had been stolen in the first place, teachers aren't police ..

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057799)

Just prosecute the teacher for theft or better yet kill him, done.

Don't ever become a spy or hitman please.. The teacher was a woman.. /sigh

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (1)

scrye (169108) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057797)

My googlefoo of "AISD Middle School karen" lead to this:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=MS2&q=+site:www.austin.isd.tenet.edu+AISD+Middle+School+karen [google.com]

Now im too lazy to figure out which one it is.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057901)

I've found that the average professional has very little clue about his union's sources of funds and its goals.

They don't need to know about a single dime of their union's funding in order to buy into the union's party line. In fact, if they did know more about the sources of funding, they might be more apt to question the party line.

Today's word of the day, boys and girls, is: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057915)

"Agitprop." [wikipedia.org]

I'm surprised the Helios guy didn't carve a backwards 'L' into his face and claim he was ambushed by Steve Ballmer.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (4, Informative)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057921)

After confiscating the disks I called a conference with the student and that is how I came to discover you and your organization.

I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful.

I think it's more a mindset. I've experienced the same attitudes in school and by teachers long before Microsoft became a recognized name. It seems that many teachers still think "no pain, no gain" (or like the kid athletes said during one of the Olympics, "No pain, no Spain"). I also remember that we were not allowed inside the school during sub-zero temperatures during recess because recess is about being outside. Yep, I even remember one teacher confiscating a ball from a kid at recess (the kid told his parents who had that teacher suspended)... and not too recently my mom talked to one of the neighbour kids who was suspended from school for being late for class. It's an authoritarian attitude. Things need to be bought; if they aren't bought then it's either stolen or its communism or "socialism".

I also remember when a person from a British government copyright enforcement agency emailed the Firefox foundation to inform then that their software was being distributed and that punishments for those offenders will be forthcoming. That person had a hard time believing that software could be free (I believe this was a Slashdot story many moons ago).

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057937)

Real professionals don't have unions but rather colleges.

The rest are just professional wannabe's.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (1)

DrHyde (134602) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057973)

The bit of the teacher's letter that is quoted doesn't even say that she's a member of a union, let alone that specific one.

Anyway, I know where *my* union's money comes from and what it's goals are. The money comes from members and a very little bit comes from adverts in our magazine.

Re:Let's cut the conspiracy theory (1)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058015)

I agree completely, except to call it a conspiracy theory is a bit much no? Had it been the case it would be a mere quid pro quo. Something which happens all the time without parties ever conspiring.

Education dollars better spent (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057615)

What none sense; spending education dollars on MS products rather than say remedial spelling lessons for adults who are over reliant on spell check.

Re:Education dollars better spent (5, Funny)

Craevenwulfe (611318) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057717)

"What none sense;"

I have to ask, was this a joke?

Flabbergasted.. (2, Insightful)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057619)

All I can say is wow... What a completly ignorant twat.

On another note ALL HAIL BILL

Re:Flabbergasted.. (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057719)

I would have been flabbergasted, except for the fact that its a teacher saying that. There are very few teachers who seem to know where their knowledge area stops, or who don't express opinion as fact.

Re:Flabbergasted.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26058045)

In my experience doing tech support in a public school system, the majority of teachers are ignorant twats. Anything beyond their knowledge is obviously something bad, and definitely not worth learning..

On a similar note, teaching a teacher something new is damn near impossible.

epic lul (2, Informative)

Emesee (1155401) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057627)

it is.

Re:epic lul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057809)

I raged.

Teacher sounds like a dumb cow (0, Redundant)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057631)

I'm sorry, someone has to say it.

Re:Teacher sounds like a dumb cow (0, Offtopic)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057661)

You could remove the "To Linux In" and the headline would be more accurate for this teacher:

"When teachers are Obstacles to Education." The guy was probably an economics teacher who believes in Keynesianism, fiat currency, and the Easter Bunny but doesn't believe in free software.

It's tempting to just call this guy a dorky technophobe as at least 70% of the teachers out there fit the profile. But how do we edumacate these people?

Re:Teacher sounds like a dumb cow (3, Insightful)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057975)

You could remove the "To Linux In" and the headline would be more accurate for this teacher:

"When Teachers Are Obstacles Education" ?

Re:Teacher sounds like a dumb cow (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057947)

uh... and you sound like a dairy farmer?

Ha-ha. (4, Insightful)

contra_mundi (1362297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057637)

"I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older version of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them..." Just like XP now.

Re:Ha-ha. (2, Funny)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057693)

DUH! MS are known the world over for their generosity and handing out of their software for free. China and Russia have loads of Free copies available.
Mind you they might as well give vista away for free and say its a technical demo of windows versions to come.

How to introduce free software (4, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057967)

I find what works best is to supply examples of fine open source software that runs on Windows and Linux. Once they grasp the concept of free open source software and the missing hurdles to it's use, the next step is to note the OS itself is free software. As an example, this page I wrote concerning an engineering challenge for launching t shirts at a NBA game. The engineering task was to find the optimum length for the launch tube. Note the use of open source software in the solution. When the teacher compared the open source solution to the Microsoft Sound Recorder or other packaged solution, then the seed for the concept is planted. Have the teacher read the license. um End User License Agreement. On a side note, the final and winner announcement will be this Friday. Our team has an excellent chance of winning. The teacher knows that I use The Gimp to size photos for the wiki, etc on a Linux machine. Windows is not needed.

https://inteltrailblazerschallenge.wikispaces.com/Barrel+length+trim+method [wikispaces.com]

When Open Source is the best solution, it gets noticed. It is no longer just hobbiest software.

Ignorance beyond words (2, Insightful)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057643)

How are these people allowed near kids? It's rhetorical question, don't bother replying.

Email address please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057647)

Please provide the said teachers email address so that we can forward our comments - I think as a US taxpayer it is fair....

Re:Email address please? (-1, Troll)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057965)

teachers email address:

karenk@karenware.com

There is No Such Thing as a Free Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057657)

This is plenty of proof that tax money cannot buy education, and society will be better off once everyone figures that out. People either choose to become educated or not, and no amount of threatening or coaxing someone will change that.

Re:There is No Such Thing as a Free Education (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057875)

Yep. And the poor can just go fuck themselves.

Don't blame the teacher ... (4, Insightful)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057663)

The teacher has nothing to do with the NEA getting money from Microsoft. She's just a low-level drone who's only source of information was maybe an education tech conference she went to and the mainstream media.

A better letter would have pointed out that Linux is being used in industry, in the world's largest companies, the U.S government and so forth and that children should have the skills to compete in the workforce by learning Linux. The whole free software thing should also be explained in the letter throughly, perhaps with a page or two containing a complete idiots guide to the basics of the GPL, etc. Perhaps reprinted from C-Net or some other technology media source.

Yes, blame the teacher ... (5, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057953)

Teachers are supposed to embody the spirit of learning, this one is deliberately ignorant.

Linux needs Windows to run (5, Funny)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057687)

Anyone else reminded of:

http://digg.com/linux_unix/Linux_Needs_Windows_To_Run [digg.com]

Re:Linux needs Windows to run (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057749)

Nobody else reads digg. Just you.

Oh dear god (4, Insightful)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057691)

Was this real? The letter snippet reads as if the supposed teacher was ranting about drug use or some other evil of society. So much righteous indignation, so little understanding of the real world.

I pity the school system that relies on these characters to educate and "guide and discipline" any child.

Re:Oh dear god (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057811)

You're right it sounds like that time we got a fake notice of kids using "PHP" and "action being immediately taken" to thwart the spreading of this new wave of what could only be a "highly addictive narcotic."

Don't fake us out. If this is real just tell us which public school. Its our right to know as tax paying citizens. We'll get the rest of our information directly from the school district.

Now please. No fucking around.

What are the teachers teaching (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057699)

No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful.

I can imagine a generation coming out of school believing that "free software" is somehow illegal or immoral. Nicely taught to pay the "computer tax" to Microsoft, which is the only solution.

Re:What are the teachers teaching (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057763)

I can imagine a generation coming out of school believing that "free software" is somehow illegal or immoral. Nicely taught to pay the "computer tax" to Microsoft, which is the only solution.

You could be onto something here. I have an idea (a dream if you will) where every computer sold will have attached to it a 1%-3% tax (regardless of OS installed) that will go directly to MS in case windows is ever put on that machine or incase the OS installed infringes on MS' IP.

Some of you here may liken this practice to the RIAA, MPAA but I assure you that this is nothing of the sort. Honestly. No really completely different.

Oh don't be so foolish (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057891)

I can imagine a generation coming out of school believing that "free software" is somehow illegal or immoral. Nicely taught to pay the "computer tax" to Microsoft, which is the only solution.

No, they just would pay for Linux... nothing is free, you know.

Innovation in education... (1)

micromegas (536234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057701)

...can take place on the desktop. M$ and Apple have a hegemony on school tech budgets. We use Linux Terminal Services for general productivity. I have a 2:1 ration to workstations in our school. Thankfully the school admin see the value in a free-as-in-speech approach. With the upcoming belt tightening, large districts will be forced to examine the Linux in schools option carefully. Are we ready to meet the challenge?

Who broke the law? (5, Interesting)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057713)

Here is a teacher, accusing a student and an Open Source software organization of breaking the law (and no doubt intimating as such to her class) and confiscating the student's property for no valid reason. I believe the teacher is guilty of criminal acts. I also believe she leaves herself and the school board open to civil action. I am not an admirer of the US legal system, but this might be a good time to use it to send a message to the world's ignoramuses that, yes, some software is both good and free.

Skolelinux (School Linux) (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057741)

I guess the growing number of schools across the world that have, and is, adapting versions of Skolelinux [debian.org] are being duped then?

Debian Edu / Skolelinux

Debian Edu
* is a Debian project to make the best distribution for educational purposes.

Skolelinux
is the name of a Debian Pure Blend which is produced by the Debian Edu project.
"Skole" ([skuËl]) is the Norwegian form of "school". Both "skole" and "school" comes from the Latin word "schola".

Goals

* Provide a complete software solution using free software and ...
* tailored for the needs and use-cases in educational scenarios.
* preconfigured for easy installation (standalone, as well as network-wide rollout).
* easy to use, maintain, and administer.
* supporting your language natively.
* Classify and package all free software related to education.
* Write documentation to describe how to use the various softwares (in an educational context).
* International availability, currently being translated into XX languages

Re:Skolelinux (School Linux) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057801)

Maybe it's just me but my first through was that's it's the distro for chew users everywhere :)

Modern myths (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057743)

1. No software is free
2. Computers are just like that - you have to reboot them once in a while.
3. Microsoft got to their dominant position because Windows is simply the best OS evar!
4. Teachers are intelligent people who are a reliable source of information about anything.

From TFA (2, Funny)

liegeofmelkor (978577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057751)

I along with many others tried Linux during college...

LSD, pot, Linux... ah, those crazy college days!

Re:From TFA (1)

pm_rat_poison (1295589) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057935)

You forgot to add lesbian experimentation for the females. oh wait, there are NO female linux users. But if there were pot-smoking, LSD-consuming linux-using geek girls who bring a friend, I'd like to get me one of those

Employing the narrow minded to widen minds . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057755)

I'm yet to encounter an "IT" teacher at school level who knows anything about IT. Great way to prepare our youth for the information age!

I find this instance personally hilarious as education is one of the few areas that I would actively promote the use of linux - only teaching about one operating system is like only showing people how to turn left when teaching them to drive - sure they can get to most places but your REALLY giving them a massive disadvantage!

Re:Employing the narrow minded to widen minds . . (2, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058019)

We don't have an IT Department in my school; It's the '"The Microsoft Way" Product Demonstration Department'.

The day I have to stop translating "computer" into "hard disc" to get them to reboot properly (and not power off the monitor) is the day they become something more than MS sales droids.

I think she's had a flashback (5, Funny)

jim0203 (980945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057759)

In the article, this hapless bint (how can we stop people like this getting near children?) says "I along with many others tried Linux during college and I assure you, the claims you make are grossly over-stated and hinge on falsehoods." I think she has got Linux confused with either (a) LSD or (b) [insert adventurous sexual practice here].

Take note of this, everyone. (5, Insightful)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057767)

This is probably the finest example of how to not win over support from people outside of the Linux and Open-Source community.

I was kind of surprised to hear of the reaction that the teacher had to a student handing out Linux disks, as I don't know anyone who would take personal offense to trying out that software. Almost reads like a joke, but then again there is Rule 36...

However, I was even more surprised by the response that was given to her claims. Did he honestly think he could be persuasive by being condescending, insulting and, well, just downright mean?? His points are valid, though I think one of them is pure opinion. (I don't think Linux was designed to "free people from Microsoft." I think that it was designed as an alternative to closed-source operating systems in general, which being "freed" from Microsoft Windows is a side effect.) Yet, if that teacher was being a bit harsh, Starks did nothing to quench that fire.

With all of that said, I think that Linux is gaining positive momentum in education and public offices. Naturally, it will be a slow transition, considering most IT departments are not too comfortable with the idea of switching all of their computer network to a Linux-based one (and with good reason). It's getting there, though.

How would support from this dipshit have been lost (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057857)

This fuckwit of an arrogant opinionater troll-witch stole private property, libelled a legitimate company and slandered a child in her class.

And all because Linux must be illegal because free software cannot exist and anything trying to pass itself off as free must be illegal and stolen.

So how could ANY response short of a shagging from twelve hot pop stars would have made it possible to persuade her that she's wrong?

Mod parent up (0, Redundant)

liegeofmelkor (978577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057881)

Really, you can't win people over by being snide and condescending.

Re:Mod parent up (2, Insightful)

sa666_666 (924613) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058047)

And sometimes you can't win people over at all, no matter what you say (or how you say it). They've decided to be willfully ignorant, and nothing you do can change that.

Re:Mod parent up (-1)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058049)

I would argue most Linux supporters are themselves snide and condescending. Not to mention most carry around a chip on their shoulder the size of a Cray XMP. From the outside looking in, it has many of the markings of a religious cult. Maybe it's not so much that I don't like Linux, but I never liked religion.

Re:Take note of this, everyone. (1)

b1c1l1 (1292354) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058001)

Naturally, it will be a slow transition, considering most IT departments are not too comfortable with the idea of switching all of their computer network to a Linux-based one (and with good reason).

Good IT departments are not too comfortable with the idea of switching all of their computer network to a Windows-based one (and with good reason).

Re:Take note of this, everyone. (5, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058003)

Please remember that when they're trying to teach, teachers are basically control freaks.

I'm not saying this to be derogatory, you understand, but when you're trying to get a bunch of kids who don't necessarily want to sit still and pay attention to listen to you, what other option is there?

That explains the teachers' reaction to the student handing out Linux disks. It'd probably be much the same whatever the student was handing out.

Regarding their reaction to the existence of Linux - well, there's no shortage of narrow-minded people in teaching, as in any walk of life.

Re:Take note of this, everyone. (1)

verloren (523497) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058005)

I agree with your overall point, but I think you are mistaken when you said 'I don't think Linux was designed to "free people from Microsoft."', because that's not what the article claimed

From the article: "Linux is a free as-in-cost and free as-in-license operating system. It was designed specifically for those purposes."
A true statement - one could argue about the relative emphasis, and I'm sure RMS would heavily favor the latter, but both aspects are true.

The following sentence: "Linux is used to free people from Microsoft"
Also true; only conflating these two quotes would get you to the point you made.

wow! just wow! (2, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057781)

it is amazing how uninformed and ignorant school teachers really are, i think government owned & run schools are as bad as any in washington (run by a bunch of corrupted reprobates) shameful!

on another off topic note i listen to ham radio & pirate radio on a shortwave radio as a hobby, more often i hear ham radio operators mention Linux :D

Education (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057785)

A while ago, while browsing the local school library, I had to take the piss. As I entered the computer lab, I uploaded the Linux virus, installing Nigger-buntu in place of Genuine Windows Vista.

An eloquent reply? Really? (2, Insightful)

nysus (162232) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057789)

He sounds just as ignorant about unions as she does about operating systems. Microsoft doesn't "pump" money into the NEA. That's just stupid.

I'm not sure which is funnier ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057791)

"No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful."

Oh my goodness! Yes, keep that up, and students might realize they can write software themselves!!! What a horrible message that would send.

What kind of an upside-down world does this teacher live in? It's as if they were complaining that if students got free paper, they might start writing. Or if they got free wood and tools, they might start doing carpentry. Or ... learn to do anything.

"I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older version of Windows"

BWHAHAHAHA! That was a good one. Not only would they be unlikely to do this, if Microsoft offered free copies of anything they'd probably offer free copies of Vista :-)

Even a stopped clock... (3, Interesting)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057827)

It's interesting that some of her statements are not strictly inaccurate. I might even say enlightened, without the enlightenment.

No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful.

Amen to this. There is always an associated upkeep to software, alluded to by the reply about releasing improvements incrementally.

Kids aren't a commodity, you have to take the rotten apples with the good ones. School teachers are just people who have a lot of different kids to deal with. Imagine grading kids' papers, errors, and half-thoughts for years. I'll cut that person a little slack for what they get paid. Much like my 6th Grade teacher (with a Master's in Psychology) who was at a loss to figure out how to properly spell Chameleon (stuck in the Ca and Ka sections of the Dictionary), people are ignorant about different things. Welcome to the world. I'm surprised she wrote a letter. I saw it as a plea for help worded in a defensive manner. Now she gets educated. The circle is complete.

...is worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057885)

She's wrong.

Your breath is free. You pay noone. Your play is free you can think without paying. You can help your friends without wanting payment in return (if they never pay back, you don't care: they are your friends and you could help. Or they aren't friends, just people who can be useful to you).

So, do you only keep friends as long as their balance in return favours no more than a little bit behind on credits?

You sad muppet.

Re:Even a stopped clock... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057969)

Amen to this. There is always an associated upkeep to software, alluded to by the reply about releasing improvements incrementally.

So? The software itself is still free. Sure there's an associated cost with its upkeep. That doesn't mean the software becomes non-free.

Non-Free Software = $X
Non-Free Software Support = $Y

Free Software = $0
Free Software Support = $Y

No one's making any claims the support of software is free.

Oh no! I've been naughty! (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057831)

Does this mean that I have been *gasp!* pirating Kubuntu illegally for the past 6 years???

*frantically starts digging bunker in back yard*

IT a religion? (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057849)

All hail Windows, and be damned anyone that uses another operating system!

Do school IT departments still think in this day and age that knowing how to use Windows and Microsoft Word makes children some sort of computer genius?

Mid 1980's in the UK, home computers were coming on to the market more, and the school had "IBM compatible" computers, Microsoft was nowhere to be seen. We used what we could run on the machines (or got licences for), not restricted to dogma about which OS to use.

What a tool... (5, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057877)

Ok, the teacher is misinformed and here email is a bit terse. Still, it was a chance to educate someone and make a friend; instead he chose to pen a rude reply and escalate the battle to the school's administration.

I simply do not understand this attitude - FOSS advocates are trying to gain wider adoption of their software and ideas and yet seem to go out of their way to antagonize anyone who doesn't share their viewpoint.

This could come down to a basic question - what right does a teacher or school have to control student activities in the classroom. My guess is that, if push comes to shove, a court would give them broad latitude in such matters. The teacher has no idea what is on the disks; and the school would naturally be concerned about any lawsuits that might arise over that, so they have a legitimate interest in restricting such activities. All it takes is one CD-Rom with something objectionable to a parent or illegal to paint FOSS and it's supporters as somehow evil and a danger to kids. Not that that is right, but winning and losing these kinds of battles rarely hinges on what is right.

FOSS advocates should ask themselves why MS and Apple are successful in getting their products into schools and adopt their approach - working with teachers, teaching them how to use their products to further classroom activities; in short becoming a partner with them. I know a lot of teachers, and most of them just want to help their students learn, avoid hassles from parents and administrators, struggle with the myriad of laws and other things that impact their ability to teach and really care about the kids they teach. Sure, there are some who are useless but most are just trying to do a good job in a challenging environment.

You do not have to agree with or like the teacher's stance, but to further FOSS goals you need to understand it and determine the best way to overcome it. making an enemy is not, IMHO, the best way to further those goals.

I've found teachers open to FOSS if approached the right way. For example, explaining how OpenOffice/NeoOffice can be used for schoolwork by students so parents don't have to shell out cash for MS Office. Give them a disk, with written instructions on how to set it up to save in an MS format and you've made it easy for them to use and helped build credibility for FOSS

The problem is zealots see everything as a threat or challenge; and believe compromise and cooperation is selling out; and that any differing viewpoint or argument against their approach is either flamebait or a troll (as evidenced by /. moderations).

As a fellow teacher... (4, Interesting)

kklein (900361) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057887)

As a fellow teacher, let me speak in this woman's defense:

As a teacher, and especially as a K-12 teacher, no one has ever asked her to be anything other than an ignorant, time-wasting simpleton bent on convincing the children in her charge that all adults are blathering morons and that education is for douchebags. In fact, I'm pretty sure "Time-Wasting" and "Self-Righteous Ignorance" are required courses in most teacher-training programs.

There is a reason why most people don't learn much until they get into college. College professors have never had to take any classes in the education department.

So cut the lady some slack, folks. She's just doing what she was trained to do.

As a fellow human being... (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058041)

Let me speak against this woman.

Despite your attempt to excuse her behavior, she is ignorant, vindictive, and has no right to confiscate harmless personal property from a student.

I have had many teachers over the years, in public school, private school, and college, who were NOT ignorant, time-wasting simpletons. They were intelligent human beings who encouraged their students to investigate and experiment.

What you have given us is an explanation, not an excuse. There is NO excuse for this.

She's not entirely wrong (1, Offtopic)

abroadst (541007) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057889)

I love Linux as much as the next geek, however, I can sort of understand her point of view, even if she doesn't represent herself very well. If a kid wants to play with Linux and learn about how the computer works then s/he should do it, but if it prevents the computer from working properly with coursework or software provided by the school, then that could be a problem. I can see how it would be highly annoying to a teacher, who really has better things to do than to support PCs, to have to explain why some document won't display properly, or something won't work exactly as it should on Linux. In a setting where spending any time at all on helping kids with how their laptops work is a huge distraction I can see how encouraging students to install Linux would be a very big disruption. Some will disagree, and it's better than it used to be, but I still wouldn't advise my mother to replace Windows with HeliOS or Ubuntu or any other Linux. The reason people choose Mac and Windows isn't entirely marketing and bundling, it's also because they tend to be easier to get support for - or even for novices to figure out.

You are a twit (3, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057963)

Did you even read the article? The disks in question are Live CDs that do not have any affect on anything installed on the computer.

I'd thank the Teacher (5, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057897)

She just made Linux the coolest thing at that school. I can see the kids handing out those disks in as clandestine manner as possible.

I hope she told the other teachers to do the same thing.

Re:I'd thank the Teacher (1)

jackuess (1121253) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057951)

I thought the exact same thing. Soon Linux will be hotter than sex, drugs and rock'n'roll!

you can only teach what you know (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057907)

This is a case of the education system failing. Most teachers, especially in any subject that involves the slightest amount of science or technology, are so badly trained and resourced[1] that they're typically a page or two in front of the kids when it comes to dispensing knowledge. Fortunately, most of them stick to the syllabus - otherwise they'd go off, spouting their opinions as "fact" and screwing up countless lives. However, they have such a limited knowledge of science or tech. from the real world, that anything they haven't come across before will seem wrong. Since most of them will have heard of piracy, porn and viruses it is natural for them to assume, in the absence of any hard practical knowledge they have themselves, that everything they don't explicitly teach is wrong, or bad.

Rather than being saracstic in his reply, this guy should've offered to educate the teachers into what other options are out there. Instead he's just turned them off and made them more hostile to alternatives.

Since succeeding in the education system requires children to give the answer the examiners expect - rather than the one that is correct, by closing this teacher's mind to other possibilities the Linux guy has made sure that the teacher will not admit coursework or answers that involve non-MS products. A good opportunity to expand some horizons has been wasted.

[1] yes, yes, I know: yours was inspirational and a credit to the profession. Congratulations, you're in the top 0.5%.

Public Schools... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26057911)

A failing institution...

Silly liberals, jails are for kids (0, Offtopic)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057929)

I'm disappointed that so many Slashdot readers are surprised by the actions of this teacher. Children are naturally curious and love to learn. If we allowed them to use libraries, Internet connections, and democratic structures, than the majority could achieve prodigy-like abilities; instead compulsory schools teach them censorship, arbitrary authority, and outright lies. The corporations need some way to forge an obedient workforce.

Teacher's distributing ms crapware? (1, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057971)

I have a brother-in-law named Dave. One day Dave's daughter comes home and says: "look dad, my teacher gave me this free student edition of ms-office 2003." Not knowing any better Dave installs it on the family PC, and just accepts all the defaults.

Three months later, the trial period ends, and Dave can not access his outlook email. I tried an outlook backup, and uninstalling the crapware, and re-installing Dave's ms-office 2000 - it wouldn't work. I had to completely re-build Dave's PC. But, nothing could read outlook trial 2003 email. I had to install the crapware on another PC, read the old .pst file in, save the email in another format, then move the email to Dave's rebuilt PC, then rebuild the other computer. When msft tells us "try before you buy" they don't mean it to be an option.

How not to reply to people (5, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057983)

Great, so he posted an incredibly arrogant, opinionated response to that letter and has done nothing to change the teachers viewpoint other than maybe think Linux users are all pricks.

The teacher was deeply wrong with her viewpoint but the best way to respond is to politely correct her and guide her to somewhere where she can read up more on it. That's likely to result in a much more lasting result.

Instead he goes on about Evil Microsoft conspiricy theories a stupid "Linux is better than windows in every single way" type rant. It's fine thinking one OS is better than the other but you're deluding yourself if you don't think there are things one OS does better than than the other (cue 'lol windows crashes better' replies).

You won't change people by belittling them and going on what frankly, would seem like crazed ravings to someone unfamiliar with OSS zealots.

Ken Starks (5, Interesting)

julian67 (1022593) | more than 5 years ago | (#26057987)

Ken Starks is a tedious and shameless self-promotion artist. He won't ever reveal the real names of the teacher or the student because they don't exist. He's a serial troll. The choice of Helios as a moniker is partially apt because he is at the very least *ego*centric, though certainly not effulgent. Free software would benefit greatly if "Helios" and Roy Schestowitz beat each other into dumb oblivion or if /. and lxer and similar just stopped taking any notice of these arseholes. They're embarrassing.

You're American: Sue her for libel (3, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26058053)

"At this point, I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful"

The law isn't just there for assholes to misuse. She's calling him a thief and accusing him of corrupting children. She's also hindering his business and bringing his him into disrepute. I think it would make an interesting case and that it would have merit even if he didn't win.

To the best of my knowledge she's got every right to choose to keep Linux out of the classroom if the laws and regulations of her school, district, state etc. give her that power. However she has no right dictating what software the children use after hours or what their political views should be. So get a parent or two involved as well/

Of course you could use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that she's wrong, but you're not going to win her over, and if you did you'd have won one hell of a prize ally.

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