Low Enrollments.

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Low Enrollments.

Arthur-27

>> To the extent that the CS departments have allowed, and continue to
>> allow,  themselves to be company towns for the major industry players,
>> they deserve what they get.  And if what they get is a lack of interest,
>> maybe that is saying something optimistic about who our kids are today.
>
> Art

>Vilification of Microsoft is one way to go, certainly.  Not an especially
>original approach.

I not vilifying Microsoft as generally as you seem to make out (or, taking
some responsibility, as I might sound to be).    

>As I sometimes think of you as an investor, I'm somewhat surprised that
>your alternative to "bad companies" is "no companies" i.e. "because some
>companies exert a negative influence in the classroom, classrooms should be
>company-free zones."  

I don't know where you are getting either of these ideas.

a) I am not an investor.  

I am, in fact, a "failure".  

Browsing the business section of a book store yesterday I came across the
acronym FISO for the first time. Stands for a concept of making it in a
large enterprise - Fit In and Stand Out.  I personally was unable to
navigate that.  

I was good at one - or the other, at different points. Never simultaneously,

I "fit in" only late in my (large) corporate career - when I had lost all
interest and passion for what I was doing. I was a charm to get along with.

Earlier I was working in small business environments where I stood out, and
was impossible.

I did nothing in particular to go from one environment to the other.  It's
the way things tend to go these day.

By simply standing flat, after having chosen a career devoted to working in
the environment of small business, I found myself working for a subsidiary
of an enormous Stock Exchange conglomerate.  They made us a (financial)
offer we could not refuse.  Just got the last piece of my sliver of the
buy-out money.  More financial insecurity ahead.

I could have survived in that financially secure mode indefinitely, had I
chosen. Couldn't stand it.

More irrelevancy?

To an extent.

Though Paul Graham - a notorious hacker (and PyCon featured speaker)  -
chooses to spend a good deal of his book meditating on these same issues
along side his meditations on educational issues.

Yahoo made him the offer he couldn't refuse (which was his plan all along).
But he did not last long as a member of the Yahoo team. Just says that there
are different legitimate sensibilities alive and well.  Yes, there is some
legitimate resentment I think toward Microsoft for narrowing the playing
field for certain types of passionate and productive personality types.

But no I don't consider myself a Paul Graham.  But I *am* willing to follow
his lead in connecting dots of relevancy.

And see nothing wrong with edu-sig collecting frames of reference on these
kind on these issues.

If others don't want to play, I can't help it.

I *can* be reasoned with, I believe.

But 2 sentence potshots from folks not making any other noticeable effort,
isn't reason enough.

To the extent that *I* am making a effort, it is going to take more effort
than that to convince me to make less of one here.

b) I accept that there is quite legitimate business to be done in the area
of education.

But what is Microsoft's agenda?

It is intangible, and therefore hard to confront. It is just to be present
and accounted for in a student's day-to-day life. It is the kind of agenda
that only comes with a concern for hegemony.  

They are probably correct in concluding that, as a long-term business
matter, it is important that the business machine or entertainment box
destined to be on every child's desktop be running their software. Even if
they have to give it away.

Does somebody's business machine or entertainment box need to be on every
child's desk?  

Apparently so.  

It's - apparently - just a matter of working out the few tweaks needed to
turn them into Education Blasters.  

I'm waiting.

But nobody can convince me they are there yet. With any amount of
advertising spending.

Art




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Re: Low Enrollments.

Kirby Urner

Hey Art, I actually do appreciate all the autobio and think it relevant, to
me at least.  

I thought you were some kind of financial advisor before and individual
clients and/or pension fund managers might knock on your door looking for
safe ways to grow their money, a rate of return -- but then again, who isn't
looking for such opportunities, when it comes to moneymaking.

Anyway, you still didn't grapple with my question, which I'll now direct to
some random capitalist:  if you think some companies have a negative
influence on education, is the answer to purge the education sector of all
company influence, or is the answer to free schools to be more autonomous
and savvy when it comes to picking and choosing vendors and service
providers?

As a small business person, I want to be an attractive candidate when
bidding on school-related contracts.  I don't mind competing with Microsoft,
and/or partnering with it (could go both ways in different contexts e.g.
MSFT competes with Apple, but also writes software that Apple users buy,
e.g. Office).  

Worse than Microsoft up to its usual dirty tricks would be some government
edict from on high that says thou shalt not do business with private
for-profit companies if thou art a public school.  That'd be a disaster for
me, personally, and for just about any for-profit company that produces
merchandize or curriculum materials (e.g. text book publishers like
McGraw-Hill, a former employer).

I want to encourage some uses of Python in schools, and among home-based
scholars (who may be adults as well as kids), that I'm sometimes rewarded
for demonstrating and promulgating (i.e. professing, teaching, delivering).

In microcosm, I suppose I'm not that different from Microsoft (I'm just a
lot smaller).  I want to survive in a business that interests me.  So that
brings me to a philosophical question:  what's wrong with that?  

I don't see my goal as in principle unethical.  It's what teachers have
always wanted:  to teach, to have brilliant students who make a difference
in the world, and to receive food and shelter while doing some honest work.

Kirby
4D Solutions
PDX OR USA


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Re: Low Enrollments.

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by Arthur-27

Hey Art, I actually do appreciate all the autobio and think it relevant, to
me at least.  

I thought you were some kind of financial advisor before and individual
clients and/or pension fund managers might knock on your door looking for
safe ways to grow their money, a rate of return -- but then again, who isn't
looking for such opportunities, when it comes to moneymaking.

Anyway, you still didn't grapple with my question, which I'll now direct to
some random capitalist:  if you think some companies have a negative
influence on education, is the answer to purge the education sector of all
company influence, or is the answer to free schools to be more autonomous
and savvy when it comes to picking and choosing vendors and service
providers?

As a small business person, I want to be an attractive candidate when
bidding on school-related contracts.  I don't mind competing with Microsoft,
and/or partnering with it (could go both ways in different contexts e.g.
MSFT competes with Apple, but also writes software that Apple users buy,
e.g. Office).  

Worse than Microsoft up to its usual dirty tricks would be some government
edict from on high that says thou shalt not do business with private
for-profit companies if thou art a public school.  That'd be a disaster for
me, personally, and for just about any for-profit company that produces
merchandize or curriculum materials (e.g. text book publishers like
McGraw-Hill, a former employer).

I want to encourage some uses of Python in schools, and among home-based
scholars (who may be adults as well as kids), that I'm sometimes rewarded
for demonstrating and promulgating (i.e. professing, teaching, delivering).

In microcosm, I suppose I'm not that different from Microsoft (I'm just a
lot smaller).  I want to survive in a business that interests me.  So that
brings me to a philosophical question:  what's wrong with that?  

I don't see my goal as in principle unethical.  It's what teachers have
always wanted:  to teach, to have brilliant students who make a difference
in the world, and to receive food and shelter while doing some honest work.

Kirby
4D Solutions
PDX OR USA


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Re: Low Enrollments.

Dethe Elza

On 17-Oct-05, at 12:45 PM, Kirby Urner wrote:
> In microcosm, I suppose I'm not that different from Microsoft (I'm  
> just a
> lot smaller).  I want to survive in a business that interests me.  
> So that
> brings me to a philosophical question:  what's wrong with that?

There is a difference across such differences in scale.  Microsoft is  
a convicted, but unpunished and unrepentant, monopolist with goals  
which go beyond simply making money (i.e., extending their monopoly  
further to make more money in the future, as well as ideological  
goals of having a Microsoft computer on every desk).

> I don't see my goal as in principle unethical.  It's what teachers  
> have
> always wanted:  to teach, to have brilliant students who make a  
> difference
> in the world, and to receive food and shelter while doing some  
> honest work.

It is not unethical to earn an honest living from honest work.  Many  
of Microsoft's business practices *are* unethical, and sometimes  
illegal (i.e., a former Microsoft accountant was fired when he  
revealed some of their shady bookkeeping).

I don't view that as Microsoft-bashing, just old news.  On the other  
hand, I have no interest in using Microsoft products or building on  
their platforms as I would personally feel like I was enhancing their  
monopoly and abetting known criminals.  And yet, that's exactly what  
I do at my day job.

Apple has also been less than ethical at times, certainly they have  
been known to prey on their own developers, but they don't operate  
from a position of monopoly, they contribute back to the open-source  
community, and they genuinely innovate, so while I think Jobs is kind  
of a jerk and wouldn't want to hang out with him (no risk there!), I  
don't mind building on their platform.

IBM went through its own monopoly trial and was found not guilty, but  
they changed their business practices anyway.  They also innovate and  
give back to the open source community.  I don't have a problem with  
writing for them or getting paid to do it.  Maybe I should, because  
of the part they played in the Holocaust, but it's hard for me to  
make the connection between today's management and business practices  
and those of 60 years ago.

Everyone has a different place where they draw the line between  
ethics and making a living.  I don't like where Microsoft draws  
theirs, although there are certainly worse corporations in the  
world.  But I don't refuse to drive a Ford because Henry Ford was a  
flaming anti-Semite (I refuse to drive a Ford because they make crap  
cars).

Hmmm, starting to ramble.  I think there was a point in there, I hope  
you can find it.

--Dethe

"All spiritual paths have four steps: show up, pay attention, tell the
truth, and don't be attached to the results."  Angeles Arien


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Re: Low Enrollments.

Kirby Urner


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dethe Elza [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Dethe Elza
> Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 2:16 PM
> To: Kirby Urner
> Cc: 'Arthur'; [hidden email]
> Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] Low Enrollments.
>
>
> On 17-Oct-05, at 12:45 PM, Kirby Urner wrote:
> > In microcosm, I suppose I'm not that different from Microsoft (I'm
> > just a
> > lot smaller).  I want to survive in a business that interests me.
> > So that
> > brings me to a philosophical question:  what's wrong with that?
>
> There is a difference across such differences in scale.  Microsoft is
> a convicted, but unpunished and unrepentant, monopolist with goals
> which go beyond simply making money (i.e., extending their monopoly
> further to make more money in the future, as well as ideological
> goals of having a Microsoft computer on every desk).

The standard capitalist response:  so don't pin your business plans on
Microsoft.  Use their products if you must, on a pick-and-choose basis, but
develop expertise in other technologies and invest in those.  Schools should
feel free and empowered to do so, just as ordinary consumers and small
businesses should.  

In other words, why not let market forces "punish" Microsoft (which is
currently getting its ass whipped in personal music/video devices, i.e. it's
way behind Apple when it comes to iTunes and iPod).

In other words, I never disputed that we might have a problem with some
company's ethics and practices.  I'm just saying we should solve that by
working with *other* companies, not saying we're too good, too pure, to
every have friends in the for-profit sector.

> > I don't see my goal as in principle unethical.  It's what teachers
> > have
> > always wanted:  to teach, to have brilliant students who make a
> > difference
> > in the world, and to receive food and shelter while doing some
> > honest work.
>
> It is not unethical to earn an honest living from honest work.  Many
> of Microsoft's business practices *are* unethical, and sometimes
> illegal (i.e., a former Microsoft accountant was fired when he
> revealed some of their shady bookkeeping).
>
> I don't view that as Microsoft-bashing, just old news.  On the other
> hand, I have no interest in using Microsoft products or building on
> their platforms as I would personally feel like I was enhancing their
> monopoly and abetting known criminals.  And yet, that's exactly what
> I do at my day job.

So it's to your advantage to keep investing in projects, products and
technologies which free you from any ties to Microsoft.  I understand that.
I'm saying schools should be free in the same way.

> Apple has also been less than ethical at times, certainly they have
> been known to prey on their own developers, but they don't operate
> from a position of monopoly, they contribute back to the open-source
> community, and they genuinely innovate, so while I think Jobs is kind
> of a jerk and wouldn't want to hang out with him (no risk there!), I
> don't mind building on their platform.
>
> IBM went through its own monopoly trial and was found not guilty, but
> they changed their business practices anyway.  They also innovate and
> give back to the open source community.  I don't have a problem with
> writing for them or getting paid to do it.  Maybe I should, because
> of the part they played in the Holocaust, but it's hard for me to
> make the connection between today's management and business practices
> and those of 60 years ago.
>
> Everyone has a different place where they draw the line between
> ethics and making a living.  I don't like where Microsoft draws
> theirs, although there are certainly worse corporations in the
> world.  But I don't refuse to drive a Ford because Henry Ford was a
> flaming anti-Semite (I refuse to drive a Ford because they make crap
> cars).

And I'm all in support of letting people vote with their dollars based on
just such ethical considerations.

> Hmmm, starting to ramble.  I think there was a point in there, I hope
> you can find it.
>
> --Dethe

I understand your point -- you don't like Microsoft and wish you were more
free of it, including in your day job.  My question was:  is the only way to
keep nugatory businesses out of the classroom to erect some wall or barrier
between schools on the one side, and the business world on the other.
Arthur seems nostalgic for some mythical time when this wall existed.  I
don't think it ever existed, at least not in capitalist society, wherein
business have always (a) built schools (b) recruited from schools (c)
influenced the curricula at schools and (d) had their technologies used
within the schools.

What I want to do:  field a fleet of cybervans to roam the country, coming
to town in circus mode, and staging educational knock-your-socks-off events,
or inservice trainings with less fanfare, then leave.  Schools exposed to
this new curriculum will usually wanting more -- it's an exciting future
we're advertising.  

I've already made a lot of progress in this direction.  So what if some of
these cybervans have a Google decal on the side?  Or 4D Solutions.  Or
Global Data Corporation.  All good companies.  And if Microsoft wants to
field similar assets?  Well, why not.  We'll compete.  We believe in a level
playing field.

Kirby


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Re: Low Enrollments.

Dethe Elza
In reply to this post by Arthur-27
Kirby,

I think we're largely in agreement here, it just seemed that you were  
saying that what you do as a small business and what Microsoft does  
is ethically equivalent, which I don't agree with.  I do agree that  
the solution is not to legislate business out of schools.  I think  
the solution is to a) ignore Microsoft, and b) make Microsoft  
irrelevant (they are allowed to help with this, and have been making  
great progress %-)

> What I want to do:  field a fleet of cybervans to roam the country,  
> coming
> to town in circus mode, and staging educational knock-your-socks-
> off events,
> or inservice trainings with less fanfare, then leave.  Schools  
> exposed to
> this new curriculum will usually wanting more -- it's an exciting  
> future
> we're advertising.

Where do I sign up?  I'd seriously like to hear more about this.  My  
wife is doing her Ph.D. in Education right now, and keeps asking  
herself (and me), "why am I doing this?"  We're looking for more  
signs of progressive change.

> I've already made a lot of progress in this direction.  So what if  
> some of
> these cybervans have a Google decal on the side?  Or 4D Solutions.  Or
> Global Data Corporation.  All good companies.  And if Microsoft  
> wants to
> field similar assets?  Well, why not.  We'll compete.  We believe  
> in a level
> playing field.

I also want to start teaching Python in the community, but am having  
trouble starting (both figuring out a good starting point, and  
freeing time from other commitments). I'd like to hear more about  
your progress, maybe I can get inspired to join you.

--Dethe

Choosing software is not a neutral act. It must be done consciously;  
the debate over free and proprietary software can’t be limited to the  
differences in the applications’ features and ergonomics. To choose  
an operating system, or software, or network architecture is to  
choose a kind of society. --Lemaire and Decroocq (trans. by Tim Bray)


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Re: Low Enrollments.

Kirby Urner

> Where do I sign up?  I'd seriously like to hear more about this.  My
> wife is doing her Ph.D. in Education right now, and keeps asking
> herself (and me), "why am I doing this?"  We're looking for more
> signs of progressive change.
>

My hope is a lot of people will be looking where to sign up for this
lifestyle, which would suit many just fine.  

However, it'll be up to each company doing a fleet to screen applicants
using inhouse criteria.  

The government may also choose to field fleets (you know how the Pentagon
tends to be gung ho on recruiting).  [KU: Some schools in Portland have been
barring recruiters from campus because of their homophobia, but that's
another story].

There won't be one centralized sign up sheet, trust me on this.

My role of late is in brainstorming the suite of artifacts that go into a
bizmo (business mobile) and that includes curriculum software.  For some
overview on the whole idea, check this blog entry:

http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2005/09/rethinking-cyberbookmobile-concept.html

> I also want to start teaching Python in the community, but am having
> trouble starting (both figuring out a good starting point, and
> freeing time from other commitments). I'd like to hear more about
> your progress, maybe I can get inspired to join you.
>
> --Dethe
>

I just met with my counterpart in Portland Public Schools.  My gig will be
on a volunteer basis, but for me that's OK.  I'm field testing, getting
feedback.  It'll look good on my resume, that I've had all this real world
experience.  He wants a GIS slant, which is good, cuz I've trained ESRI
people in Python and know something about that knowledge domain.

> Choosing software is not a neutral act. It must be done consciously;
> the debate over free and proprietary software can't be limited to the
> differences in the applications' features and ergonomics. To choose
> an operating system, or software, or network architecture is to
> choose a kind of society. --Lemaire and Decroocq (trans. by Tim Bray)
>

I'm OK with this philosophy.  On the other hand, schools of thought are not
fixed in stone.  Microsoft could someday turn around and start doing a Linux
distro, complete with all kinds of proprietary goodies on top of Linux.  A
lot of other stuff'd be totally open (BSD type).  Same deal with IBM:  it
loves Linux and contributes openly to the kernel, *and* it loves running
proprietary stuff on top of Linux, and earns profits doing so.

So, given this imaginary scenario, I expect you'd have the following two
camps (among others):  "OK, Microsoft is good now, I'll use its stuff and
promote it among friends" vs. "Microsoft hasn't paid a high enough price for
its previously bad behavior, this distro is totally lame, like Windows was."

Since I'm already using Microsoft stuff today (not even under protest), I'm
more likely heading towards that first camp, unless I discover something
really heinous I don't already know about in the lore and history.

I drive a Subaru these days, but in Europe we had Fords (Cortina, Taunus).
In the Philippines we had a Chevy Nova.  Bhutan was a Gypsy (Suzuki-based),
Lesotho a Kia (these are all parent-owned vehicles).  I've owned Honda and
Toyota as well, no complaints.  

I do have some moral qualms about Subarus sharing a dealership with Hummers
@ Dick Hannah (but not enough to keep me from going there).  I don't think
of hummers as ethical vehicles, given who used them in wartime (no, I'm not
talking about the soldiers ordered to drive them -- many of whom were/are
blameless, ethical, kind).

Kirby


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Re: Low Enrollments.

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Arthur-27


> From: Kirby Urner [mailto:[hidden email]]
> To: 'Arthur'; [hidden email]
> Subject: RE: [Edu-sig] Low Enrollments.
 
> In microcosm, I suppose I'm not that different from Microsoft (I'm just a
> lot smaller).  I want to survive in a business that interests me.  So that
> brings me to a philosophical question:  what's wrong with that?

Why do I have to explain to a Fullerite the difference between a human being
and a Corporate Giant?

Microsoft is beyond a certain kind of criticism, in that acting so as to
maximize profits is not only within their mission statement, it is their
fiduciary responsibility.

> I don't see my goal as in principle unethical.  It's what teachers have
> always wanted:  to teach, to have brilliant students who make a difference
> in the world, and to receive food and shelter while doing some honest
> work.

Food and shelter is good.

Seeking that, and acting in concert as an organization with the mission of
maximizing profits are apples and oranges motivating factors and can only
and necessarily lead to apple and orange approaches and decisions.  

You can try to collaborate with Microsoft, but I can't see the basis to
believe it will be a workable collaboration.

I would hate to see them using you the way they would tend to, point to  a
small scale pilot project for its PR effect and to justify more dubious
claims and assertions.

Microsoft is well past the food and shelter stage of things, and for them to
collaborate with you they would have to be doing so in a context with an
ultimate goal of profit maximization. Otherwise they are not acting within
the terms of their charter and mission statement.  And nobody is accusing
them of that.

It might be in your own self-interest to not look too deeply into the fuller
agenda motivating any support you might get from them, or think too deeply
about it.

Up to you.

Art



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