“No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful.”

This blog is momentarily interrupted to bring you a snippet of recently received email.

“…observed one of my students with a group of other children gathered around his laptop. Upon looking at his computer, I saw he was giving a demonstration of some sort. The student was showing the ability of the laptop and handing out Linux disks. After confiscating the disks I called a confrence with the student and that is how I came to discover you and your organization. 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. These children look up to adults for guidance and discipline. I will research this as time allows and I want to assure you, if you are doing anything illegal, I will pursue charges as the law allows. Mr. Starks, 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 admire your attempts in getting computers in the hands of disadvantaged people but putting linux on these machines is holding our kids back.

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 verison of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them…”linux vs windows No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful.

I suppose I should, before anything else, thank you…And please…investigate to your heart’s content. You are about to have your eyes opened, that is if you actually investigate anything at all. Linux is a free as-in-cost and free as-in-license operating system. It was designed specifically for those purposes. Linux is used to free people from Microsoft. 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”. To do otherwise would probably get you reprimanded at the least and fired at the worst. You are only doing what you’ve been instructed to do.

I find this teacher’s attitude appaling. I wish I could say that she does not represent teachers, but she does…at least some of them. These are the ones that always ends up in administration, so they can tell other people what to do.
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5 thoughts on ““No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful.”

  1. Not the ones that end up in administration. There two types of teachers, those who teach and those who use teaching as a stepping stone. At the university level, there are two types of professors, those who teach and those that teach because it’s a required part of their grant money for research.

  2. I’m going to college to become a teacher (high school science), and I hope I never become so indoctrinated as to toe the party line like this. If I ever have cause (like for a project or experiment) I will joyfully distribute Linux discs to my entire class, and I will secretly install Linux dual-boots on all classroom computers I have access to.

  3. @Erik
    Good luck, teaching can be a very gratifying career. I’m on sabbatical now (great perk along w/ tenure) and will retire next year. I’ve worked in schools that I loved and some I hated. Find one whose philosophy parallels your own. For math and science teachers, you can work wherever you want, for the most part. Schools in every county in the country need math and science teachers (that alone should give us a hint about why 3rd world countries score better than the US in those 2 subjects).

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