For Educations Sake

Richard M Stallman-What should it mean to promote free software?

Towards the end of this speech Richard explains why its important to use libre software in education, below I have transcribed the deepest reasons, you can download the video or download the audio for the whole speech.

Non-free software prohibits education, non-free software is the opposite of education. it says you are not allowed to learn because everything inside the software is secret.

When students are in their teenage years some of them become fascinated with machinery with software, they want to learn everything and these are the people that are going to become the great programmers, they’re the natural born programmers and all you have to do to enable them to become great programmers is give them free software, and say to them you can learn anything you want, its all exposed, nothing is secret because their going to want to learn about the software they’re using, they’ll type the commands to do something and wonder “how does the program do this when I give the command”, if they’re using non-free software the answer is “its a secret, your not allowed to learn, your not allowed to learn anything, all your allowed to learn is how to run it, your supposed to be ignorant” but with free software the school can say, the teachers can say “oh your curious, well go ahead, the program your using right now is this one and the source code is here, and I’ll even help you find the part of the source code that relates to this problem so that you can start learning”, and the next thing the student will do is say “I don’t think this program is exactly right, I’d like to try changing it”, with non-free software your helpless, non-free software keeps you helpless that’s what it means that its non-free, you cant study it or change it, with free software you can change it, the teachers can guide the students until the students don’t need any more guidance because they’ll learn, by the time they graduate from secondary school they can be accomplished capable programmers, capable of taking a job to do powerful programs, I’ve seen this happen plenty of times.

But the deepest reason applies to every student, schools are supposed to do more than just teach facts and skills, the most important thing for schools to teach is a good attitude towards other people, an attitude of cooperating with other people, helping them out when they need help so schools should say to the young students, to the kids when they first come to school “if you bring software to school you cant keep it for yourself, you must give copies to the other kids when they want copies”, of course the school has to practice its own rule, it has to practice what it preaches so the schools should supply only free software to these kids and that will teach them good habits of living, habits of sharing with other people, if I had a child who was in school, and the school starting trying to teach my child not to share with other people I would tell the teachers “don’t you dare say that to my child, I want my child to be a helpful, kind, cooperating person, don’t you dare say that sharing is wrong”, you know what they say, they say that if you share with other people your a pirate, they’re saying when they use that word what they mean is that helping your neighbor is morally equivalent of attacking ships and that is the opposite of morality, attacking ships is very bad, sharing with your neighbor is good and we should all encourage other people to share with our neighbors and anyone who says that sharing with neighbor is piracy , we have to say loud and clear that they are wrong.

A little while back I was interacting with a group known as TALO and some of their members recently watched this movie so thanks for finding the time to watch it, maybe more about them later. I worry that some of the people in adult online education are like the Don Kings of elearning and I don’t want to get dragged into that so we’ll see what happens.

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