Mast Kalandar

bandar's colander of random jamun aur aam

Mon, 07 Apr 2003

TeX for Schools?


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Here is my 2 paise worth on this discussion.

  1. What is deemed "user-friendly" or "easy-to-learn" in today's computer world is more determined by the phobias of adults than by what children are capable of learning.

  2. Nothing can be taught by teachers who are themselves unable to approach the material with enthusiasm.

  3. Just as it is fun to write simple programs and see the end results, so also school kids will enjoy being able to "teach" the computer using "TeX" (remember that "teach" and "TeX" are pronounced rather similarly!) what they want it to do instead of doing all the work themselves with a so-called "word processor".

  4. In this respect, the "graphical" mode of "Emacs21+auctex+preview" or "LyX" may satisfy the legendary impatience of children. However, it is important to emphasise the challenge and satisfaction of being able to "state" precisely what one wants to limit the "preview" crutch as one gains in TeXpertise.

  5. The real hurdle to all this is of course the point that education is for many in India a means of obtaining certification towards a job. In this direction, TeX or programming can only be seen as a secondary subject which trains one to think correctly. TeX certifications by themselves are unlikely to lead to many jobs (though there are more today than even a couple of years ago). Compare that with M$oft certifications which most would seek.

Hence a two-pronged solution may work:

A. Give courses on such things in local schools and colleges whenever you can.

B. Generate notes which can be easily accessed for self-study and used by enthusiastic teachers.

Needless to say such activity can only be pursued with energy by those who never step off the learning curve themselves.


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