FSFE projects [was: T-shirts]

Alessandro Rubini rubini at gnu.org
Sun May 20 22:36:36 UTC 2001

> I don't like that but this depends on the teachers. - If you can educate
> teachers this would be no problem at all I think.

Yes. The main issue is getting teachers to know about Free

And a typical error that people makes is "let's work on the issue and
change the world". The problem, unfortunately, is a big one (like
swpatents) and exactly like with swpatents we must look to coordinate
with existing initiatives instead of firing new ones.

There are very good groups of people working on the topic of free
software in education (and yes, there are also a lot of bad
initiatives out there, in Italy I've seen examples of both). Everyone
would benefit if we help coordinating existing initiatives.

What needs to be done in the educational field, in my opinion is:
A- talk with politicians, to make governments be favorable to free software
	in education. Some nations are already working in this direction,
	and it's important to know what is being done before acting again.
B- help individual teachers as much as possible. There are very smart and
	motivated teachers out there, and their papers are worth
	more visibility on the web. Collecting and re-publishing existing
	material and lists of interesting links would be very benefical.
C- support i18n efforts. In education you need local-language tools and,
	unfortunately, this is one of the fields where free software is
	most lacking (as far as I know, but I chose to disregard the issue
	to keep my life easier).

While Italy (the environment I know best about) is one of the worst
countries WRT use and understanding of free software, we have a few
very smart teachers that are doing an enourmous amount of work. They
are the (B) avove: a powerful resource, but need help in (A). Other
teachers, those who don't know about Free Software yet, need help in
(C) to make the transition easier.

If the bureaucracy gets involed in this, it can set up courses for
teachers about Free Software. Teachers routinely attend official
"update courses" to stay current. Last year we had one such course in
Trento, thanks to Francesco Mulas and other motivated people in the
regional offices, who helped make it real.

Some interesting points made by our teachers:

- the educational offices spend a huge amount of money in buying software
	in order to teach students about it. However, according to normal
	commercial rules, those software companies that want schools
	to teach their stuff should *pay* schools to this aim, instead.
	(but, obviouly, education can't be bought, so all of this is a
- the only way a teacher can enjoy his/her freedom in teaching (one of
	the basic rights of teachers in public schools) is by using Free
	Software. Every other choice is so limiting that it's in fact
	depriving the teacher of his/her main didactic force, relagating
	him/her to a marketing instrument.

Disclaimer: I may have misrepresented the fine details of very
well-thought and well-formulated ideas. My point here is that there
are good resources and great documents that need more support
(translation, visibility etc).

BTW: some of those great teachers are participating in linux-expo
Milano this June. I urge anyone poking there to go and listen to them,
especially Antonio Bernardi.

Quello che scrivo rappresenta solo il mio personale punto di vista,
non rispecchia l'opinione di organizzazioni di cui faccio o ho fatto parte.

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