...I wanted to make sure that folks got a chance to see Lynne May's posts about the upcoming SoaS deployment - she's the classroom teacher. (Bernie's working on getting the blog on Planet, so this should be a moot point soon. Thanks, Bernie!)
"I think it is important for my students to know that Sugar is based on these principles. I want them to think whether or not these principles are compatible with their own thinking about themselves as learners, and about learning. I see how these principles connect to the Quaker principles of our school. Will they?" -- from Reflections on the Sugar Mission Statement
Cambridge Friends School is a Quaker school, so it's interesting to me to see her translating our Sugar work into the values that the school already holds dear, because that's what they're going to think is important, that's how they're going to be able to start understanding this. It's like everything else in open source; you start with what they already care about, the itches they want to scratch, and then you find the intersections of your self-interest and theirs where it makes sense for both of you to work together.
There's also the Proposal draft, which includes the following:
The social studies curriculum for grade one room 2 will focus on
communities for the rest of the school year beginning February. The
students will explore three parallel communities: the school community
(where they work), the neighborhood (where they live), and the Sugar
Labs community (where they share ideas). In the course of this unit,
the students will attempt to answer these two questions:
- What role do I play in these communities, and how do I fulfill this role?
- What makes a community work well for me, and how could I tell if it would work well for someone else?
This has a few important framings and implications. One thing the open source world has historically had a hard time with is communicating to others how we work - how our communities work - because at first glance it sounds totally unlike anything someone from outside the open source world is used to. However, if you frame it as:
- Your school is where you work
- Your neighborhood at home is where you live
- Your open source community is where you share ideas
...then bam, the parallels make a lot more sense. I'll also note that #3 is basically the core of the definition of a community of practice.
The other exciting implication is that the work of the students is going to be learning how to explain open source participation to others. This is great, because...
- It means they will be participating.
- It means we will have first-graders able to explain how to participate - and if they can grok this and explain it, then by gosh anyone can.
I think that there may be a part of some people's brains that turns off when I open my mouth - "Oh, you're one of those... math and... technology people... engineer... I have no hope of understanding what you're saying so I will now switch to Nod Politely Mode." But this same circuit does not trigger when faced with a first-grader saying basically the same thing. Because a 6 or 7 year old can't possibly be saying things that should go that far over your head - if they understand it, you should be able to understand it too.
One thing I would love to see: if we made it a practice to have every Sugar Labs presence at an event include at least 2 presenters age 12 or under. And I mean presenters - speakers, boothworkers, etc - not "we happen to be hanging around the booth while our parents work it." The kids should be running the show, with the grown-ups supporting them as loyal minions. Mmm, minions. I'm looking forward to trying this out... just need to find a nearby event so the kids (and their parents) can actually make it over there.
 Although I also think I tend to trigger this less than some of my fellow engineers - as a young minority woman, I look less like an engineer, which sometimes helps with getting folks to be more open-minded about the things I'm trying to say. (Hey, while the situation exists, we might as well use it to our advantage.)