Education Freedom Day – 2014 , taught me more than the sum total of near about 100 seminars and guest lectures which I have taken before that . We at Free Software Foundation , Tamilnadu (FSFTN) decided to go ahead with Government School kids and celebrate the EFD-2014 with them on 24th January 2014 . For a change we told to the students that we would present them a book to the student who asks questions rather than who answer questions . This was our tactics to break the ice , but it broke my misconception that college students were more intelligent than school kids .
Here is how it started .Having announced the book presenting , the session began in Bilingual mode – of slides in English and speaking in Tamil .Though the projector was present the screen was not there , neither was the time to arrange the screen in its place as students came way before we entered the hall .So we used the black board as projector screen as well as black board . (Freedom 0 – Use the program for any purpose 😉 )
The one in the right is the first slide which I use in every presentation that I do irrespective of the subject or technology which I handle . By this I mean that I teach and in that process , I learn . In short I share 🙂
After showing the first slide I was still in wondering .How am I going to explain the difference that Linux is a kernel and not an operating system . ? So started with something they were familiar – windows operating system .I asked them what all operating system they know . The answer was Windows XP , 8 , 2000 etc. It increased my self confidence . Yes , they are starting to interact with me . This is what I needed , now I can share with them what Free Software is and what freedom actually means. Next I asked them is there any other operating system you guys know . Right corner a girl gave the answer .” In governent’s free laptop scheme there is BOSS operating system “
Then , I explained on the board B -> Bharat O ->Operating S -> System
The girl in the first row politely asked a question , Sir , what does other “S” in BOSS stand for . I was happy . The first question has come . But , I could not recollect what that second “S” stood for . I accepted that I forgot and I announced – This girl gets the first book ;)At that moment had some one taken a pic of mine it would have given a classical example of oxymoron – what it was like to be questioned , not know the answer and yet be happy.
I said to myself – ” They are opening up for ideas. Must not miss the opportunity “
Now I wanted to get a little bit technical and asked what an hardware is . The answer came as – the stuffs in computer which we can touch and feel . Okay . Then I went to what a software is , and got the perfect answer for it . Now I thought , will ask them what memory is and what are different storage types .Their answer was spot on . Then I asked what a RAM is . Chorus – Random-access memory . Aiming to get the answer that I have in mind (Volatile memory) , I asked them so , whats the other name for RAM . Now this is the happiest part . I thought that I would give them clues after clues , that it would start in V and end in E , but before I could turn to the board the answer came out – Volatile memory .They explained to me what a swap memory was :))
I said to myself the famous quote in Pearl harbour
” The smart enemy attacks you exactly where you think you are safe”
– Admiral Kimmel:
Next came the 4 freedoms .
I normally start with what is “free” ? Students mostly give answers of free as in free coffee . Based on that , this is my actual slide .
Here when I asked what is free , the students replied freedom as in Free thinking . What do you expect me to do 😦 The idea which I am supposed to tell in the next slide is being given as a answer to me in the previous slide .
I was very happy that its going in right direction 🙂
Things were going well , at one point when I told that various “GNU/Linux operating systems” were present , a kid from last chair got up and stopped me .! Sir , you previously told that Linux is not an operating system . Now you are contradicting your statement . I was like , madam – I previously told Linux , now I use GNU/Linux , so this is an operating system .
I was seriously feeling like voooohaaa .
Even the minute details are being noticed by the kids , which I normally dont see among college students . I was very happy to handover the kid a copy of the book ;)The event went great . They grasped the concepts with ease . The synergy worked well . Did not want to break the flow . But still all good things come to end . So does school by 3.20 PM. So , had to end it somewhere there with how community works and what Education Freedom actually means and what freedom actually means .
The stuffs which I learned from them :
1.I was not a sir in that room . I had 120 madams who taught me each and every line of what Free Software is all about .
2.The school students are less corrupted by the education system . Its the higher education which in name of chanellising them narrows their vision .
Dear activists , break the shackles . Don’t stay in IIT’s and elite institues . Not even in colleges . Come to the schools . Interact with the students . You will understand that we have a Free Software World to Win 🙂
Would like to thank Mrs. G.P Kamalavathy , Head Mistress of the school , Mr. S.K Gulam Thasthahir , Asst.Head Master of the school and Mr.Tamizhmani, Computer science teacher and the EFD team which thought of celebrating something called as EFD 🙂
A special thanks to our FSFTN volunteer team which worked hard to make the event a grand success -Raj Anand , Suthir ,Nappinnai , Anupama ,Welkin . And last but not least – Prasanth who pushed me to write this blog 😉
Photos at – EFD – 2014