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Computing in school — comparison with water.

20170319 (2017 March 19 Sunday)

I teach computer science, not computer products. We need to stop pushing products.

Schools should be teaching computer science and IT, not products. At this time computers are set up as office tools, and many IT-support departments work in opposition to teaching computer science and IT. We look to the companies that sell software to teach us about software.

This is like asking Evian to help with pupils swimming classes, just because they make a lot of money selling water. Yes we can ask them to provide money, but often they, instead, send a crate of bottled water, and we get the pupils to try to swim in it.

There is nothing wrong with a bottled water company sponsoring a school. However we should not be using their water. It has been shown that bottled water costs about 1000 times more than tap water, in most places in the world the tap water is better than more than half of the bottled water, and in blind taste tests people can not tell the difference. The argument that it is provided for free to schools is irrelevant, this is a marketing ploy to create dependence (“first one’s free”). It is not about price, it is about education. Another thing these companies do is to move in to a region, and start pumping out water, so that there is none remaining for the local population. They then step in with a solution “buy our bottled water”. In parts of the world with a strong legal system there have been court cases (e.g. in the USA), but the companies have argued that it is not there fault “it was a bad year, it did not rain”. The fact that this was not devastating in the past, because there was not a big company extracting to much water, seems to be irrelevant. In other countries it does not even go to court.

This is exactly what is happening with computer software. We need to teach students to be responsibly empowered, to use computer in the way that will enhance there lives, and not be dependent on big corporations.

Therefore Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Google, Facebook, … should have no place in the classroom. We should start this by not promoting them. We should then start removing them, so that pupils can learn, better, how computer work and how to use them.

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