"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." -- Lao Tzu
“授人以鱼，不如授人以渔” - 老子
Increasingly, computers are expected to be useful tools in our children's education. But today, most children whose education involves computers are being taught to use one company's product: Microsoft's. Microsoft spends large sums on lobbyists and marketing to procure the support of educational departments.
Many US states even boast about how they are cooperating with Microsoft, either ignoring or not understanding the corrupting influence that accepting freebies from this huge corporation has on their government. Because Microsoft's software is proprietary, it is incompatible with education. Users are simply passive consumers in their interactions with Windows. They are legally forbidden from adapting the software to solve a particular problem, or from satisfying an intellectual curiosity by examining its source code. An education using the power of computers should be a means to freedom and empowerment, not an avenue for one corporation to instill its monopoly through indoctrination.
Free software, on the other hand, gives children a route to empowerment, by encouraging them to explore and learn. Nowhere was the promise of an educational platform using free software more significant than the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. Launched by MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte in 2003, OLPC was supposed to lead children around the world to an advanced education using the combination of information technology and freedom. The project aimed to produce low-cost devices (starting with one called the XO) so that millions of children could have access to them, and free software, so they would [have the critical freedoms to explore and share their software].
Indeed, while it did use a small amount of nonfree software, the XO machine had taken an unprecedented step toward being a completely free software machine by replacing the traditional startup program (called the BIOS) with a free program, giving children control of the devices at a fundamental level. While previously there were many laptops capable of running a free GNU/Linux system, no manufacturer had ever published the information a developer would need to make a laptop run in this way before. Because of its free software approach, hundreds of people from the international free software community volunteered their time, skills, and money to help the project.
Then [under pressure from Microsoft] , the project backed away from its commitment to freedom and announced that the machine would become a platform for running the nonfree Windows XP operating system. With this pressure, Microsoft took aim at the low-cost platform as a way to make poor children around the world dependent on its products.
This reversal of [policy flew in the face of the project's stated goals of promoting freedom]. Many OLPC developers quit in disgust, and some members of the user community [tried to oppose the change] . But Negroponte, desiring the financial support of Bill Gates and Microsoft, ignored them and proceeded with his decision. As a result, it is expected that the main effect of the OLPC project -- if it succeeds -- will be to turn millions of children into Microsoft dependents. That is a negative effect, to the point where the world would be better off if the OLPC project had never existed. The project tragically became yet another example of Microsoft exerting its control to ends harmful to society's freedom.http://laptop.org/en/vision/index.shtml
"To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future."http://www.olpcnews.com/files/microsoft ... n_olpc.pdfhttp://www.computerworld.com/s/article/ ... onomyId=12http://wiki.laptop.org/index.php?title= ... did=131155