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Code.org Documentary Serving Multiple Agendas?

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the kids-love-windows-eight dept.

Education 226

theodp writes "'Someday, and that day may never come,' Don Corleone says famously in The Godfather, 'I'll call upon you to do a service for me.' Back in 2010, filmmaker Lesley Chilcott produced Waiting for 'Superman', a controversial documentary that analyzed the failures of the American public education system, and presented charter schools as a glimmer of hope, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed KIPP Los Angeles Prep. Gates himself was a 'Superman' cast member, lamenting how U.S. public schools are producing 'American Idiots' of no use to high tech firms like Microsoft, forcing them to 'go half-way around the world to recruit the engineers and programmers they needed.' So some found it strange that when Chilcott teamed up with Gates again three years later to make Code.org's documentary short What Most Schools Don't Teach, kids from KIPP Empower Academy were called upon to demonstrate that U.S. schoolchildren are still clueless about what computer programmers do. In a nice coincidence, the film went viral just as leaders of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook pressed President Obama and Congress on immigration reform, citing a dearth of U.S. programming talent. And speaking of coincidences, the lone teacher in the Code.org film (James, Teacher@Mount View Elementary), whose classroom was tapped by Code.org as a model for the nation's schools, is Seattle teacher Jamie Ewing, who took top honors in Microsoft's Partners in Learning (PiL) U.S. Forum last summer, earning him a spot on PiL's 'Team USA' and the chance to showcase his project at the Microsoft PiL Global Forum in Prague in November (82-page Conference Guide). Ironically, had Ewing stuck to teaching the kids Scratch programming, as he's shown doing in the Code.org documentary, Microsoft wouldn't have seen fit to send him to its blowout at 'absolutely amazingly beautiful' Prague Castle. Innovative teaching, at least according to Microsoft's rules, 'must include the use of one or more Microsoft technologies.' Fortunately, Ewing's project — described in his MSDN guest blog post — called for using PowerPoint and Skype. For the curious, here's Microsoft PiL's vision of what a classroom should be."

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226 comments

Exquisite Use(overuse) Of Hyper Text (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223499)

The near excessive use of hypertext in this article is precisely how HTML was envisioned to be.

It's beautiful. /sniff

Re:Exquisite Use(overuse) Of Hyper Text (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about a year ago | (#43223739)

tl;dr

Re:Exquisite Use(overuse) Of Hyper Text (3, Insightful)

bigwheel (2238516) | about a year ago | (#43224063)

Aw come on! So, the OP provided a lot of links and citations. This is supposed to be a good thing. If the underlines on the text are too difficult for you, then change your browser options.

Re:Exquisite Use(overuse) Of Hyper Text (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223927)

I feel like there is a <blink> tag when I read TFS.

Re:Exquisite Use(overuse) Of Hyper Text (2)

ggraham412 (1492023) | about a year ago | (#43224171)

But every link contained in the summary is supporting an important piece of the argument. I'll reply to your sarcasm with a detailed point by point rebuttal as soon as I've vetted each and every source article linked in the summary. (Insert sound of crickets chirping...)

There is no shortage of American talent (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223515)

Fuck Bill Gates and Fuck Zuckerberg. These two self-serving cleptomaniacs are no fucking idols and should take responsibility for the fucking god damn surveillance monster they created and help propagate.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (3, Interesting)

Anarchy24 (964386) | about a year ago | (#43223537)

And yet people freely share their information. For Zuckerberg, we aren't the customers, we're the product

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (1, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year ago | (#43223701)

Zuckerberg is just a lucky moron.

Gates was lucky but he's also a really smart guy.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223893)

Zuckerberg is just a lucky moron.

Gates was lucky but he's also a really smart guy.

Yeah. It's all about luck. All that time in school studying and learning when the popular kids were playing or watching football, that had nothing to do with it. All the time working and building a business (think 80-hr workweeks) to get it off the ground while other people were going to bars and watching TV, that had nothing to do with it. The willingness to take a risk like when Gates bought CP/M, that had nothing to do with it.

The people who didn't stay in school, or had a bunch of kids they knew they couldn't afford (the NUMBER ONE cause of poverty), or tried to live beyond their means, or got too far into drugs and alcohol, or any of the other vast majority of poor who got that way by bad decision-making, why those are just unlucky. That's exactly the same kind of unlucky as the minority of poor people who did everything right and simply found that there are no guarantees in life.

God just rolled some dice and said "yup, Bill Gates, random chance has happened in your favor, so I will bless thee with great wealth!" That's why we should resent wealthy people, since they couldn't have earned it. They just got lucky. Let's take as much of that wealth from them as possible. Mmmm, taxes. That'll teach them not to be so lucky. Not because the government needs the tax revenue. Just because we don't like them and we outnumber them so we can out-vote them.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43224047)

You are aware Gates was a dropout right?

He made his business based on family connections at IBM.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (3, Interesting)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about a year ago | (#43223965)

Gates was lucky but he's also a really smart guy.

Really? Whenever I read stuff about Microsoft's early years, it seems like Paul Allen was the smart guy.

You know, the guy Gates and Ballmer forced out in the 80s when he had cancer?

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223545)

For your information, Bill Gates and Zuckerburg have nothing to do with Google

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (2, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#43223617)

It seems inappropriate to call the person who gave the most money to charity in the history of the world self-serving.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (1)

Duhavid (677874) | about a year ago | (#43223673)

Some of us believe that the way he got the money was inappropriate.

To highlight: if I gave some money I stole to charity would I be criminal or admirable?

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (3, Insightful)

qwe4rty (2599703) | about a year ago | (#43223705)

Depends...is your name Robin Hood?

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (4, Insightful)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#43224017)

Depends...is your name Robin Hood?

No, señor, it's Carlos.

Mexican drug lords are often viewed as heroes because of how they bestow largess on the poor.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43223771)

OMG, he made a product that most people liked and bought it

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (2, Insightful)

Duhavid (677874) | about a year ago | (#43223971)

That is not all he did, and it is hard to believe you are unaware.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224001)

OMG, he made a product that most people liked and bought it

Yeah. People like it SO MUCH that they had to implement various forms of vendor lock-in. You know, because no one would ever want to use a competitor's products anyway.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223731)

It seems inappropriate to call the person who gave the most money to charity in the history of the world self-serving.

Yes, to his own charity that invests primarily (if not entirely) in American companies and American markets [slashdot.org]. It also is used to fund Paul Allen's and VC's pet projects [slashdot.org]. It's to the point where they're throwing money away in order to boost their friend's revenues [slashdot.org] not really caring about the end results.

But yeah, if holding the money and spending it on only American companies is what you call "gave the most money to charity in the history o the world" then yeah ... good luck finding any lasting positive impacts though. I'd call it more of a trust fund for fat cats that may or may not have some positive side effects for the third world. I guarantee you it will have big positive gains for big pharma and Bill's friends.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223811)

So it's only "real" charity when it's given to internationals?

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223875)

So it's only "real" charity when there's no strings attached?

FTFY. Nice try but the problem here is that Bill donates to a "third party" that is really working to further his and his friend's interests and always will. Their lip service is something like their primary interest is to eradicate malaria but it turns out all their buddies get rich selling nets and vaccines to third world countries. The Gates Foundation "gives" money but all that money comes right back to their friends. The Foundation gets the write off. The friends get the revenue (independent of how shitty or great their product is). The small time businesses in the third world that were trying to sell these things get wiped off the map. And the problems largely persist indefinitely with companies buying international PR while generating revenue for other companies. Smile and pat yourself on the back, at the end of the day you're not really accomplishing anything but moving money to look good to Wall Street and the UN.

Here's an interesting question: how much money did the B&G foundation lose when the American housing and financial markets plummeted?

If you call that strictly donating to charity, you have some pretty screwed up standards of charity.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#43224025)

It seems inappropriate to call the person who gave the most money to charity in the history of the world self-serving.

In the Red-Blue bipolar imaginary Fun World, perhaps.

In the real world, you can be both, either, or neither. Nothing requires that one be dependent on the other.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#43224401)

No, seriously, charity is literally the definitional opposite of self-serving behavior. I understand that Gates was not the nicest man when it came to running a business, but he's said, and is on course to, divest his entire wealth into a charity with the intent of intelligently benefiting all mankind by the time he dies. I would love to hear a definition of "self-serving" that seriously allows for that.

Re:There is no shortage of American talent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224367)

It seems inappropriate to call the person who gave the most money to charity in the history of the world self-serving.

Satan is willing to trade some short-lived perceived benefit for the mere pittance that is your soul too. William Gates Jr. was successful in the computer industry solely due to opportune timing and familial connections within India Business Machines, formerly known as International Business Machines, formerly known as The Company that Sold Tabulating Machines to Nazi Germany for the Purpose of Counting Jews and other Undesirables Before the Ovens.

In English (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223557)

Can you translate this to English, Spanish, American or some language humans speak? I'm pretty sure it's valid HTML, but WTF?

Re:In English (4, Insightful)

dhermann (648219) | about a year ago | (#43224273)

Why would "some find it strange" that Chilcott and Gates, who worked together on Waiting for Superman, would work together again on another documentary, that highlights a more specific variation on the same theme? I don't get it.

kids are as good as the parents make them (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43223575)

i have a kid in a NYC public school. one of the best elementary schools in the city. i also talk to people who have kids in other schools or work in other schools.

the curriculum is the same. the kids are not.
in my school the kindergarten kids at a minimum know the alphabet on the first day of kindergarten. most of the kids in my son's class already know how to read simple books when they come in to kindergarten. by the end of kindergarten all the kids in my son's school are expected to read Scholastic Level F books
i have talked to people and there are first graders in some schools who don't know the alphabet.

if you want smart kids, make them smart. some days my five year old only watches documentaries on netflix and no cartoons.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (5, Funny)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#43223627)

Do they teach proper capitalization in your son's kindergarten?

The 'S' Is Capitalized (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223687)

Do they teach proper capitalization in your son's kindergarten?

Suck my dick.

Re:The 'S' Is Capitalized (4, Funny)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43224435)

Do they teach proper capitalization in your son's kindergarten?

Suck my dick.

From what I hear in the news, they do teach that in public schools.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43223749)

Just because the Son is going to a great school doesn't mean the Parent did. His inability to use capitalization may be the driving force behind putting his kid in a good school.

I agree with what he's saying though... you need to encourage your kid to do things that stimulate the brain. Reading is the time-honored classic but is from from the only mentally stimulating activity that kids might enjoy.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#43223909)

"I am unable to start my sentences with a capital letter, because I went to a crappy school!"

Now there's some ironic mind-numbing apologism for you.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43224079)

That whooshing you just heard was the joke flying over your head.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#43224275)

I don't know, man. I wouldn't be surprised if SJHillman was dead serious.

If not, then:
Ha.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (-1, Troll)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43224147)

did you forget to take your asperger's OCD meds again?

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224209)

did you forget to take your asperger's OCD meds again?

If anything could have vindicated the poster who pointed out your incorrect use of written English, it's this crass response.

The comment writers on Youtube would be proud of you. I hope your offspring can rise above the example given by their parents.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (3, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#43223663)

yep.

I went through several different public schools (family moved a lot). I found that the brightness of the students, and reputation/"quality" of the school, had more to do with their parents than the school. Some areas had demographics where the students were taught by their parents they couldn't expect to do more than flip burgers at McGhetto, or if they were lucky, become managers. Other schools, with similar quality teaching, had parents who taught their kids that they could make something of their life, with an education.

The thing about private/charter schools is that they require an effort to join them - that right there makes them self-selecting against bad parents. Not always, I have some friends that went to a mediocre charter school, that didn't teach evolution (which is the sole reason why some parents sent them there, not for concerns about other aspects of quality of education), and others who went to some of the better charter schools (they do teach evolution, or at least didn't put a point on avoiding it).

Yep, anecdotal, but there seem to be a lot of others that have noticed this. The problem isn't the schools, it's the parents.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224129)

Some areas had demographics where the students were taught by their parents they couldn't expect to do more than flip burgers at McGhetto, or if they were lucky, become managers.

Yes those are called single mothers. Not divorced mothers. Mothers selfish enough that despite all the info we have that kids are so much better off in so many ways when a decent father is around, decided to get knocked up with no intention of doing things that way. Feeling sorry for them doesn't work. Pretending like deliberately starting off one's children with a huge disadvantage is somehow not selfish, just because you don't like it, doesn't work either. Expecting better could actually work. It's why 50 years ago or so there were so few teen pregnancies and so few single (never married) mothers -- the expectation was that you don't do that, and you were scorned if you did. It worked. This business of excuses and feel-good politics doesn't and the stats prove it.

Other schools, with similar quality teaching, had parents who taught their kids that they could make something of their life, with an education.

Yes those are called two-parent households. The mother formed a stable committed relationship before she decided to have sex without birth control and have children. Because she cared and wanted to do things right, so she did. She had the integrity and the good judgment to pick a decent guy who was interested in having a family and wanted to stick around, instead of suing for child support because of getting knocked up by some loser who just wanted some pussy and had no desire to be a real father. This is tragically getting more and more rare.

Sadly the African-American community is disproportionally having this problem. In addition to a toxic culture that says being a street criminal is cool, on top of lower-performing inner-city schools, on top of real racism that still exists, about 60% or more African-American children are also having to grow up feeling like even their own father didn't love them.

You want a better world, it starts with the family. That's the building block of society. The nuclear family works. It's not just a religious idea, it's an observable practicality. The alternatives to it aren't working so well.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (4, Interesting)

Dputiger (561114) | about a year ago | (#43224249)

You're aware that teen pregnancies in the United States are down 41% since 1990, right?

Or that 48% of US families contain at least one multi-generational adult (blowing your whole "Single woman only" idea out of the water?)
http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/03/18/the-return-of-the-multi-generational-family-household/ [pewsocialtrends.org]

26% of children live with one parent. If you're going to single out that trend as being generally responsible for the decline of American...everything,despite the fact that it's a minority of total family arrangements, you really ought to highlight the fact that of that 26^% group, 26% of *them* are being raised by fathers, while 74% are raised by their mothers. You pour out plenty of vitriol on those "selfish" single women, but don't even blink at the selfish men who are raising kids on their own.

As I see it, you've got two options: Revise your previous post to be equally offensive, stupid, and insulting to both women and men, or adopt an opinion that reflects objective reality and requires a basic grasp of math.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223711)

Documentaries on Netflix, eh? I'm sure he won't be a social outcast and have developmental problems because of it! You can make sure your kid is ahead of the curve while still letting them be a kid.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43223831)

when you are a 5 year old who has seen blizzards, hurricanes and has had a tornado pass over his home then maybe he gets curious as to why and how these things happen

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (3, Interesting)

delt0r (999393) | about a year ago | (#43223763)

You know i couldn't read or write in kindergarten. I learnt that from 5 in primary school. I was top in high school and am now a scientist. Seriously what difference does it make to a bloody 5 year old? So you can teach em calculus at 6?

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year ago | (#43223939)

Agreed! My Mom always says that nobody will fucking care if you put it on the resume that you were walking when you turned 10 months old, talking in full sentences by 15th month, and reading before you turned three. I have some fairly prodigious friends who were early readers. They are extremely good in their fields but are somewhat mediocre parents, for example -- we always feel a bit sorry for their kid when they visit. Their jobs are in humanities so the pay isn't all that great, but at least they seem to enjoy themselves at the parties. They drink, oh boy do they drink at the parties. Alas, when you apply for a job, it matters whether you can do the job -- or learn to do it, as the case may be.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223765)

Might as well not waste your time with public schools then; just home school them.

I have no doubt that parents can make a difference, but so can good schools. The schools we have right now? They're terrible places, but they're utopias for rote memorization maniacs.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223889)

>>if you want smart kids, make them smart.

NYC Dept of Education budget for 2012-213 is $24.4 billion.

Ponder these two statements.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224477)

The cost of books and the push for unneeded tools (read this as constantly replacing computers or regulations). If more of the money went to the teachers and the students supplies or even a free lunch to all students, the system would produce better results with less cost.

Schools are required by law to choose expensive options. They are a slush fund for political friends and a way to break the middle class's power structure (unions) using the mandated high cost as a fulcrum.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43224089)

Blaming the parents is no good. They are the way they are due to systemic, endemic racism in America. Blame the racists, the parents are victims as much as the children.

Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (1)

real gumby (11516) | about a year ago | (#43224133)

Your example shows how hard it is to figure out what works and what doesn't.

Here's a "counter"example (I say "counter" in that that doesn't invalidate yours): my kid went through the German system. German schools rank much higher than US schools on the PISA international comparison. Vorschule (in the US, called kindergarden) was still devoted to playing, socialising, napping etc. His class was not expected to even learn the alphabet until the first day of the first grade. But by the end of the calendar year (about three months in) all the kids could read. In simple German and simple English.

Does it mean these kids are "smarter" or that the school system is better? I don't think so; rather it means that we really have little idea what works or even what "works" means since we don't know what outcome we really want, 20 and 50 years later. Oh, and it shows that international comparisons like PISA are probably impossibly difficult to make, in a large part for the same reasons. People are so different that it's presumably a unique combination of circumstances for each kid that luckily or unluckily combine to give you the outcome you need. Yes, you can see emergent trends, but only at the grossest level.

messy... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223581)

What a crapton of links in an article.... i have no idea what the point was either.

i guess i'll just go with the standard WE HATE MICROSOFT.

A Relevant Bit of Reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223591)

Just to show you that the concept of corporate interests in American education are nothing new, or even out of the ordinary, or even not an inherent part of the system itself: The Underground History of American Education [johntaylorgatto.com]

The Summary (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223603)

It burns my eyes. And ze goggles do nothing!

Come on -- is anyone surprized here (3, Insightful)

bpechter (2885) | about a year ago | (#43223611)

How could anyone find it surprising that a corporation is promoting use of it's own products. Please. Actually, Microsoft's got a couple of good products that I've used and been happy with. One's Microsoft Lync which we use at work to do messaging, desktop sharing etc. I just wished there was a linux client for the thing. It would make my life much better.

I'm Linux/Unix guy for a living but I do admit Microsoft makes some reasonable products. I wish the corporate lock-in was not as bad as it is and I wish they published docs documenting all their file formats for interoperability. They have made some strides in the last couple of years.

Re:Come on -- is anyone surprized here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223667)

Let's see a corporation promoting it's own products and trying to influence the government to probably use more of their products...

Wait, I've heard of this before... oh yeah, it's every day business.

Re:Come on -- is anyone surprized here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223781)

Actually, Microsoft's got a couple of good products that I've used and been happy with. [... ] but I do admit Microsoft makes some reasonable products.

Yes. They sell a pretty good keyboard.

A Lot of My Projects Use One Microsoft Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223615)

To keep my mind off of women and focused on the project, I routinely used my a VM to start up my Windows XP partition and watch porn. Without this vital service of being able to hand all kinds of fucked up flash and take some viruses for the team, I would never have completed my ambitious projects.

20 years ago, MS went around the globe (0)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year ago | (#43223619)

20 years ago, MS went around the globe, giving out computers as "charity", today they are going back around the globe to import these now ground children who were raised on nothing but microsoft to be their new tech workers. There is something sick about this.

Not only do they complain less, they are OK with far less pay, and far les independent thinking.

Re:20 years ago, MS went around the globe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223929)

What exactly is sick about contributing to the infrastructure of foreign nations, then hiring people? It's not like anybody is worse off for having received a computer for charity 20 years ago.

Good luck being a programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223629)

If they start teaching code in high school, EVERYONE will consider themselves a programmer, and the market will completely dry up.

Re:Good luck being a programmer (4, Funny)

Tony (765) | about a year ago | (#43223653)

I don't know about that. Everyone on /. seems to be a fuckin' critic, yet critics still have jobs.

Re:Good luck being a programmer (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year ago | (#43223787)

Being a good programmer is different from merely being a programmer, and I highly doubt most kids would turn out to be competent programmers to begin with.

Re:Good luck being a programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223837)

It would still be enough to knock down wages to extremely low levels.

Re:Good luck being a programmer (3, Interesting)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year ago | (#43223883)

Then get another job... Seriously. If what you do is so simple that any idiot can do it, then you should be worried. Don't piss on people trying to make their lives better because you are too lazy to stay competitive.

Re:Good luck being a programmer (1)

l3v1 (787564) | about a year ago | (#43223877)

"If they start teaching code in high school, EVERYONE will consider themselves a programmer, and the market will completely dry up."

We - several kids in my school - were taught programming in elementary school (zx spectrum, c+4/16 era) it was optional and extra-curricular but still) and in high school (where I was in a math-CS spec. class). After high school only around 20% of my class went to CS or IT related universities and jobs later. If 20% of everyone who learnt proper coding became a programmer, the US would have no shortage of them. The problem you are referring to is when people who didn't learn proper programming are considering themselves professionals and flood the job market with unusable "talent".

the point being? (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | about a year ago | (#43223661)

Lots of words, so the point is what exactly? That people that know each other usually work together? what's your point?

there's no conspiracy (3, Interesting)

markhahn (122033) | about a year ago | (#43223665)

it's up to us.

we're the ones who will provide the protocols that would permit the sorts of activities mentioned here to take place in a non-proprietary manner. sure, companies like microsoft seek to dominate their markets, and view lock-in one of the available tools. that's because we let them. we as a society have set up companies to be driven entirely by profit, and have not arranged our legal system to distinguish between proprietary and open systems.

look at tcp/ip, the single most successful open standard in the universe. it didn't just spring fully formed and without peers - there was lots of competition. it won because a few of the companies (and educational institutions and even government) found ways to make it into a world-scale protocol. companies get it if you say "interop is a non-negotiable precondition to purchase". government rightly gets involved not only as significant sales targets themselves, but also when they say (or should), that any utility-type monopolies granted must conform to non-proprietary standards.

imagine if mobile data service was non-proprietary: your phone simply negotiated a 5 minute service contract with the set of carriers it could detect at the moment, wherever you happen to be. (voice and text would simply layer over data, of course.) yes, that sort of thing is obvious to any techie as The Right Way, but it's our fault that the public has gone along the proprietary route: we need to speak up.

business tries to get away with whatever it can - that's just economic darwinism. we just need to set the rules.

Re:there's no conspiracy (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about a year ago | (#43223825)

imagine if mobile data service was non-proprietary: your phone simply negotiated a 5 minute service contract with the set of carriers it could detect at the moment, wherever you happen to be. (voice and text would simply layer over data, of course.) yes, that sort of thing is obvious to any techie as The Right Way, but it's our fault that the public has gone along the proprietary route: we need to speak up.

There's precedence for this. Imagine that every broadcast system, AM, FM and TV used it's own frequencies and protocols. If you wanted to watch CBS you'd need a different TV from the one that watches ABC. Exclusive deals would be made, and some TVs could receive NBC, FOX and ABC, but some would only receive independents. That's what's happening with Internet TV right now. The thought is we're still in the shakeout phase, but once the great ideas bubble to the top, everything will work. But with exclusive contracts, it's possible that there will never be one (inexpensive) platform that will display all internet broadcasts.

Point being? Noise-signal ratio? (0, Troll)

Barryke (772876) | about a year ago | (#43223737)

Whats the point of this political post? Is it to attack that guy named Ewing? Or just to crank up the links-per-article stats? Is it a /. editor making a friend?

Re:Point being? Noise-signal ratio? (2)

Emperor Shaddam IV (199709) | about a year ago | (#43223941)

Agreed. Pointless post. Code.org is probably irrelevant anyway as people who want to code will learn how anyway, and most other people probably don't care.

Besides coding is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a huge difference between teaching a kid how to code in school and actually writing quality code, understanding relational databases, coding for real-time transaction processing, understanding source control, having the patience to sit in front of a monitor for 8-10 hours a day, etc, etc.

Most of the people I took coding classes ( Basic on Apple II's ) with in high-school aren't even coding or in IT at all now. In fact, some of the people I went to college with have even left the field.

Re:Point being? Noise-signal ratio? (1)

Barryke (772876) | about a year ago | (#43224419)

You obviously do get the point of this /. post. I don't even understand your reply..

I guess this is about something currently relevant (or more likely, in the mass media) inside the US.. there is nothing in this article that i understand or -by extension- once came across and found relevant.

Microsoft PiL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223793)

There was once a band in the UK named PiL (even spelled the same way) whose lead singer once sang "No future, no future for you". I take it that Microsoft's vision of education is somewhat more optimistic.

Lots of beating around the bush (1)

poity (465672) | about a year ago | (#43223809)

Just lay out your accusations directly so we can see if they're merited by the evidence. The last part of the summary seems to kind of get to the point by implying that MS's contribution and involvement with these recent PSA causes were a way to market their products. Can we get some clarification?

It seems to me that people with strong opinions will tend to do things that are consistent with those opinions. People whose opinions differ might see that consistency of action over time as an organized conspiracy.

Re:Lots of beating around the bush (3, Informative)

Looker_Device (2857489) | about a year ago | (#43223857)

He's saying that a lot of this "U.S. schools are awful, just awful" stuff is propaganda, funded by U.S. tech firms in an effort to import more H1B-visa indentured servants to save money.

Re:Lots of beating around the bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223943)

Because U.S schools aren't awful, right? Now I see how this all makes sense.

Re:Lots of beating around the bush (1)

Kalani (66189) | about a year ago | (#43224415)

Because U.S schools aren't awful, right? Now I see how this all makes sense.

Exactly. If schools were functioning at close to an optimal level, these advertising campaigns would be totally ineffective. But this bit of wisdom [xkcd.com] is still true.

Seymour Papert did some very interesting work in the 70s -- part of this involved the creation of the Logo programming language/environment. But the more important piece of his research, IMHO, was the argument (totally ignored, as far as I can tell) that education should be remade to focus on individual students incrementally (re)constructing knowledge. How many 2-5th graders learn geometry this way?

There are valuable alternatives to the complete package that Microsoft is selling, but more-of-the-same is not one of them.

Re:Lots of beating around the bush (3, Insightful)

Pope (17780) | about a year ago | (#43224237)

"US schools are awful" is mostly being said by people who have friends investing or running charter schools. Follow the money.

Innovative my ass (4, Insightful)

misanthropic.mofo (1891554) | about a year ago | (#43223821)

Innovative teaching, at least according to Microsoft's rules, 'must include the use of one or more Microsoft technologies.'

This is no surprise, whether it's a requirement of theirs or not, it sure seems to be standard practice. It causes big problems though, people running the program, like those in charge of the department of computer science at my school, come to push MS products for everything and pigeon hole students into the MS technologies. It's amazing just how many students there are that have used MS all their lives, but are still inept at using even the Windows command line, FSM forbid that you present them with anything else. Innovative teaching of technology in grade school - university should involve a variety of technologies and platforms, especially in secondary education.

Re:Innovative my ass (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year ago | (#43223995)

Back in high school it was MS DOS, Novell Netware and Borland Pascal. These days it may well be MS Windows, MS CIFS/SMB, and MS Visual Studio. The consolidation of power is a bit scary, that's true.

Everything is okay. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year ago | (#43223897)

The kids in the public education system might turn out to be pretty decent Jeopardy players; that is, if they don't forget everything they 'learned' a year after graduating from high school...

I work at an inner city public high school. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224073)

Programming is not on the radar; nor should it be.

I see seniors who can't form complete sentences. I've seen kids who can barely use mice at all. Almost all of them will hit capslock to capitalize a single letter and then press it again to turn it off. Almost all of them cheat incessantly with cellphones or Googling answers or both.

Our problems are a lack of parents, a lack of social training (etiquette), rampant poverty, and unrelenting predation by the usual educational corporate behemoths.

Re:I work at an inner city public high school. (1)

BonThomme (239873) | about a year ago | (#43224425)

my son had trouble with the mouse because he'd been using the tablet for years.

mice are keypunch machines

There are insufficient programmers (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43224085)

available to work for $20,000 per year.

Sure the H1B's are making similar salaries but the thousands of programmers they interface with overseas are making $15,000 per year.

The good news?

Inflation is running over 25%.

I understand and agree that brilliant genius level programmers are rare and there won't be enough available in the U.S. But that's not a matter of schooling and training.

I worked directly with Infosys programmers from 2000-2013. In 2003, they were mostly masters degree candidates working in bachelor degree jobs. Today, they are mostly sub bachelor's degree candidates working in bachelor's degree jobs. The good 2003 programmers are all managers and executives now in infosys for the most part.

That level of programmer is available in the U.S.

The challenge is this: It is bloody hard to hire people. We spent 16 interviews over 5 months to get 2 positions filled. A company dedicated to IT can turn "on" 2 programmers almost instantly and it can also turn them "off" almost instantly (with no unemployment benefits). So a company like Infosys is like electric or gas or any other utility.

The problem being that infosys discriminates terribly. One hint, they require your high school graduation date on your resume. And that's just the start.

Re:There are insufficient programmers (1)

BonThomme (239873) | about a year ago | (#43224413)

brilliant genius level CEOs are also rare, but that doesn't stop the morons from getting ridiculous salaries and severance (HP, I'm looking at you)

Re:There are insufficient programmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224471)

Inflation is running over 25%.

WTF are you talking about?

PiL eh ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224125)

Think Mr Lydon might have an issue with his comapny name being used in this manner...

PiL [pilofficial.com]

Pay your taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224143)

Nobody likes a poor thief.

"American Idiots" don't want to work for $20K/Year (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224335)

Particularly when the price structure of things in the USA is geared towards those making $100K+ a year. "American idiots" have seen their 60 year old engineer parents fired for not other reason than the fact that they made too much money. "American idiots" have seen their jobs outsourced. Even if theirs has not, the threat is always there. "American Idiots" wonder, correctly, if the wonders of globalization will one day make any advanced degree they pursue worth about as much as the average janitorial salary.

While business media "journalists" will always be paid to spin something else, it is always about the money, and as we get older, it's about the job security, and the possibility that your benefits can be cut by the parent company arbitrarily.

how long has it been? (1)

BonThomme (239873) | about a year ago | (#43224371)

It seems they've been complaining about 'the dearth' for long enough now that if they were actually serious about solving the problem, those who were in pre-school when the complaining started would have Bachelor and Master degrees in CS by now...

Don't blame the education system (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#43224377)

They've been operating on a shoestring budget since as long as I can remember. Shit wages make for shit teachers. Stop paying Administration with 6-digit salaries and distribute the difference among the staff and things will improve. Gates is a two-faced jackwagon blaming a systematically hamstrug public educational system that all his buddies want privatized.

Oh, and the reason Corporations go overseas for outsourcing is the H1B visa money, not talent. They couldn't give two shits about talent as long as someone is there to answer the support line.

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