"giving kids a platform to create their future"

John Gilmore gnu at toad.com
Thu Jun 11 19:18:23 EDT 2009

> > Personally, I feel it is a mistake for the OLPC project to continue with the
> > concept of the Sugar platform as its exclusive model for an educational
> > computer.  The Sugar applications (activities) could just as well be run
> > from the Ubuntu desktop.  Then students would actually be learning in an
> > environment that can take them into the real-world that grown-ups occupy on
> > computers, when they are ready to go beyond the Sugar applications.
> ...
> Instead of making children do what *we* think is right (I am running
> 34 years behind my daughter), how about giving *them* a platform and
> asking *them* to create what they think will be their future?

Sounds like a great idea.  OLPC hasn't done that.

Kids who have never heard of a "file" or a "file system" are not going
to be able to edit source code.  Source code exists in files which
exist in file systems.  The Sugar interface deliberately obscures the
file system in favor of blog-like chronological ordering of "activities".
No source code control system or interpreter works like that --
including the one the OLPC software is written in, Python.

If Sugar taught the kids how to navigate among and examine the
thousands of files already sitting on their laptops -- or merely
enabled the kids to explore it on their own -- then there might be
some case for the Sugar XO being a "platform for kids to create their
own software".  Today that promise remains unfulfilled.


PS:  The kids can hack in little, quirky, restrictive environments
like TurtleArt or eToys, and what they learn there is useful.  But
it certainly doesn't prepare them to hack the Python GUI (or any
other conventional interpreted or compiled program), nor to take
over some or all of the job of evolving the XO operating software.

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