[IAEP] constructionism and Linux, was Re: Sugar Labs Mission & The 6 lesson Schoolteacher

James Simmons nicestep at gmail.com
Tue Apr 25 12:55:25 EDT 2017

I agree that having Sugar in any form at all on Android is valuable. It
would be a lot more valuable if Android wasn't so locked down, but it
definitely is a platform that children use. My wife and I have a party
every New Year's Day and every year every child brings a tablet and we all
march downstairs to copy the WiFi password off the router.

I do think that there is a lot of value to be had by teaching kids to
program. Maybe the kid never becomes a "developer", but we teach children a
lot of things (ballet, Karate, creative writing, public speaking, sports,
piano) with no real expectation that they'll make a living doing these
things one day, and computer programming is more generally useful than most
of them. I sometimes wonder how my own education would have been improved
if I had learned some Python and had access to Libre Office and the
Internet when I was in middle school.

Much of the best software for Linux has a Windows version. GIMP, Eric,
Libre Office, Eclipse, JBoss, Python, and lots more. I use these versions
at work every day. It seems to me that much of Sugar is just Python with
GTK. How much native software is in Sugar, and how much could we do without
or replace with something else?

Running free software on an unfree OS is not optimum, but it does loosen
the grip the OS has on the consumer. I work for Walgreens, a company that
is as conservative as they come, but which is now embracing more and more
free software. It didn't happen overnight, but it is happening. Schools are
if anything more conservative than companies, and will continue to be as
long as children have parents, but progress can happen if it doesn't have
to happen all at once.

James Simmons

On Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 10:25 AM, D. Joe <sugarlabs at etrumeus.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 01:03:09PM -0500, James Simmons wrote:
> > I'd rather the children used Linux myself (that's all I use at home) but
> > realistically I don't see it happening, unless the kids do it themselves.
> This is what is so exciting about Sugarizer: One of the platforms it
> targets, Android, is in many signifcant respects the most widely used Linux
> distribution on the planet.  There's no need to sneak it into schools, or
> to
> cajole it into the hands of children.  What's more, at least a couple of
> the
> original goals for the OLPC XO--ubiquity through low cost and aggressive
> power management--have been brought to fruition and continue to be pursued
> by the Android market. We don't have to fight a strong current the entire
> way, we may be able to row along with it, just enough to steer towards our
> own goals,
> That said, Android is heavily fractured and very consumer oriented, and
> works pretty directly against the concept of general-purpose computing
> embodied by form factors like traditionally-conceived desktops and laptops.
> The complexity of the development and production environment, and the
> limitations from its heavy focus on centralized, network-based services is
> fraught, at least as I see how they interact with goals like empowering
> individual learners and supporting their autonomy.  Nor is it as free (as
> in
> freedom) as I'd like.  Thus, I don't endorse the wholesale abandonment of
> Sugar on other platforms.
> Even so, it seems to offer a more tractable and more palatable path than do
> some other, more proprietary consumer-orientated platforms that, at the
> very
> least, elso encourage a centralizing, passivating dependence amongst their
> customers.  These other OSes may offer benefits from being still in
> widespread use, in part no doubt due to a certain level of regulatory
> capture, but Android is where the growth is at.
> My understanding is that Sugar, like the constructionist approach behind
> it,
> is meant to support open-ended learning.  I see a dichotomy pushed in a few
> of the discussions here, setting everyone else against developers.  This
> flies in the face of the possibilities that at least some Sugar learners
> will indeed *become* developers, that some *should* become developers, and
> that the rise of future Sugar developers from the broader pool of Sugar
> learners demonstrates constructionism at its best.  Not every learner
> should
> have to become a developer, no, but those that do should be able to use
> Sugar on their way.
> If that is to happen, we should keep that path as clear as we can and in my
> mind that includes Sugar running on general-purpose computing platforms
> that
> can host some, if not all, development activities.  Maybe someday
> web+mobile
> platforms will be self-hosting, and it will be routine to build systems
> from
> the kernel on up in web browsers.
> Until that happens, though, I'd like to think that a Sugar learner will not
> be limited in their ability to move smoothly from introductory activities
> all the way through to running Develop or Terminal (or, on the XOs, OFW) or
> activities yet to be developed or incorporated into the broader Sugar
> platform, from whence they have access to the entire computing stack,
> without limit.
> --
> D. Joe
> _______________________________________________
> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
> http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/iaep
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