New Education for New Workers

I don’t have a Computer Science degree.  In fact, I don’t have any degree.  I tried going to college.  It didn’t work. Either I already knew it, or I wasn’t interested in learning it.  Somehow, with that lack of education, I still manage to write code on a daily basis and support my family doing so.  Hi, I’m Paul Hummer, and I’m a freetard.

A Mongolian boy uses a laptop provided by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, which uses free software to teach children about technology

Since I was 16 or so, I’ve been contributing code to various free software projects.  Free software is software that is freely distributable by anyone, and is often also free of charge.  I was able to view the source code that made up my favorite computer programs, fix the bugs I found, and send those fixes to the people who originally wrote the software.  Oftentimes, these people were much smarter and had more “real world” experience than I, and could provide feedback.  It was a like a free apprenticeship.

It’s for this reason that I’m absolutely terrified when I see public schools investing thousands of dollars in applications that are not considered “free software.”  The monetary cost is often outrageous, yes, but I think we’re missing out on an opportunity to teach children about technology hands-on. There are people all over the world willing to be technical penpals/mentors with students currently in school today, and teach them how to be technical.
Let’s ENCOURAGE kids to take things apart!  Let’s teach them how computers work, and let’s use the existing real world expertise to do it!  At Cohere, we talk a lot about the next generation of workers and how coworking fits into that.
What if, straight out of high school, 18-year-old girl could instantly become a successful freelancer with her existing skills?  The training is out there, _free_ for the taking!
Paul Hummer
http://www.paulhummer.org

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