Software Wars

As you all know, I am a very big fan of the open-source movement, of how software and hardware should be open to the public so anyone can fix things, improve things, or adapt it to their needs. Here is a video I came across that talks about the “war” between open-source software, and proprietary software:

The Deterioration of Education

These days, education has lost much of it’s meaning. As capitalism has been expanding, schools have been focusing more on the entertainment of the students than expanding their knowledge. I will give the example of the U.S. since that is where I am currently studying, but this does not mean that it doesn’t happen elsewhere in the world, and if it’s not there, it will be. Here in the U.S. there are a few new philosophies of teaching that are going around, one of them is that teachers try to make the subject “fun” by adding useless things like videos, raps, or The Simpsons and using them as teaching methods.

The reasons people give for this kind of education is that they say one of two things: “everyone learns differently” or “we want children to love learning”. Now, here are my arguments for these. First of all, people do not learn chemistry through a Simpsons video, that is absurd. I did a little experiment with my brother, I made him watch one of these “Bill Nye The Science Guy” videos and after I asked him questions. He barely remembered things then, and when I asked him the same question a few months later, he couldn’t answer a single one. Meanwhile, try the same experiment with a book, and you’ll see that people will remember much more about the book than the documentary; especially if the documentary was made to entertain the students, not teach them.

The next thing about the “everyone learns differently” is that it gives even more reason to show you other ways to learn. The main method of learning they should teach in schools is by reading and writing, because those are vital parts of out society. For instance, if your a programmer and someone wants you to fix a bug, and they send you a word document on how to fix it; if you say “Could you put it into a rap for me? I can’t understand it if it’s not in a rap”, they will at first think you are joking, and if you aren’t, you will be fired on the spot.

Raps are good for nothing when it comes to education, and videos are only good for more physical things, like chemistry labs. However, this does not mean humor videos either, only serious videos about things like replacing bike parts or computer parts or something like that.

Now, as for the “we want children to love learning”, if you want children to “love learning”, you’re doing it the wrong way. You don’t teach someone how to play a sport by changing the rules of the sport, you make the child learn and adapt to the rules of the sport. Same in education, you don’t change education to make it fun, you make the kids think that education is fun, that learning is fun.

To make children love learning, you need to start early, and they need to be surrounded by an environment where learning is the most important thing. However, what people (especially parents) don’t like about this is that they have to make an effort to raise their child well; and for those who already have children, it means that they haven’t done their job as a parent. I know that if you’re a parent with a kid that doesn’t like learning I have basically insulted you by saying this, however, the best thing you can do in this case is to help your grandchildren.

Teacher’s also don’t like the idea that the learning aspect mostly happens at home, because most teachers like to think that they are a vital part of their students’ lives. Truth is, the teachers are as important as the child’s distant cousin that they barely see. This is not to say that teachers have not influence on the child or that they are not important, but don’t think that teachers are the key to everything in a child’s life.

The reason we like to think that teachers are the most important thing is because of Hollywood, which constantly makes movies of how a teacher changes a class full of delinquents to a hard studying class. Truth is, this never happens, and even if you ask the people that were actually involved in this event (since a lot of those movies will say “based on a true story”), you will see that they say that it wasn’t like that at all, that the teacher didn’t change the whole class, just the lives of a few people.

The best example would be this: you go to school with a group of other people, you are in the same classes and same teachers with all these people throughout high school. Why is it that you all end up very different, and some more successful than others? The reason is because the teacher isn’t the key.

So, in general, the key to how the child ends up is at home. So to make sure that the child grows up to be an educated woman/man, you would have to make sure that at home he is taught that education is important.

Now, when I say that you have to teach them that education is important, I don’t mean that you have to be persistent about their grades, only 100% on everything. What I mean is that at home, instead of watching CSI: Miami or the latest season of Supernatural, you should watch a serious documentary about science, or math, or something like that. Or instead of playing games on a computer, find a way to teach them how to program one (you could enroll them in a class, which I would be happy to help you find one, because I personally have a hard time finding good computer programming classes).

Now, this is not to say that this is all they should do, I am the first one who would tell you that the most important thing for a child is to have some free-time (which gives me an idea for my next post, because free-time doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere), and socialization with friends and family (by family I mean extended family) every day (I don’t mean you have to see your grandmother every day, I mean you have to socialize every day). All I’m saying is that when it comes to teaching you child, you should show them to learn, instead of passively consuming what others have already done. You must teach your child to be productive, not just a consumer.

In conclusion, I think that schools are going to wrong way trying to educate children, that they are wasting time with things that don’t matter. We can’t do anything about this to help others, all we can do is to help the people we know, and hope for the best.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it,