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Code.org Documentary Serving Multiple Agendas? 226

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the kids-love-windows-eight dept.
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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Code.org Documentary Serving Multiple Agendas?

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  • by Anarchy24 (964386) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @09:23AM (#43223537) Homepage
    And yet people freely share their information. For Zuckerberg, we aren't the customers, we're the product
  • by markhahn (122033) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @09:35AM (#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.

  • by delt0r (999393) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @09:41AM (#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?
  • by mjr167 (2477430) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @09:52AM (#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.
  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @09:58AM (#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?

  • by Dputiger (561114) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @10:31AM (#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.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @10:58AM (#43224517) Journal
    Gates wrote a reasonable amount of Microsoft BASIC, which was the product that put the company on the map. He also used family connections to sell it to IBM, along with an operating system that they hadn't yet written, which implies a reasonable amount of sales skill, if not necessarily implying intelligence. He also designed and implemented the FAT filesystem in PC DOS (which later became MS DOS). Oh, and he published a paper on the optimal algorithm for flipping pancakes (which sounds silly, but is actually used in a number networking tasks). He's definitely intelligent.
  • by davydagger (2566757) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @02:15PM (#43226559)
    the point is pretty clear.

    code.org is run by microsoft to promote microsoft products to little kids with government money, and to make sure kids grow up with microsoft approved coding habbits and ideas about programming, before they find alterantives.

    They are also trying to put a postive spin on outsourcing tech jobs to foriegners who already grew up exlcusively with the technology they gave them, to replace westerners who demand more money, and think independantly.

    This is all helped by a whole host of corporate artists, celebrities, and other proffesional astro-turfers.

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