Part of the problem with the Wintel monopoly is the false assumption that large US companies have the best solutions for everything. It’s not so.
‘Wandering into an 11th grade high school class he found kids were studying the following problem: “Given a data file describing a maze with diagonal walls, count the number of enclosed areas, and measure the size of the largest one.”’
see Vietnamese high school kids can pass Google interview.
I have seen this in many of the schools in which I taught. I would go in and be told by the principal that “the students are weak” or “that will be too hard for them” and it’s just not so. IT/computer science is basically very simple: break a problem up into pieces small enough to be described in a programming language and turn the beasts loose on it. That’s exactly what kids have been doing since the age of 3 or so.
I remember one school where a principal sat in on one of my classes and solemnly told me that the lesson was way over the heads of students. Those students solved Naughts and Crosses in three days by two different methods working in a FLOSS manner sharing code and ideas back and forth. By the end of six weeks they had accomplished most of the high-school curriculum for computer science in that jurisdiction and they weren’t computer science students. They were technology students. Using Pascal, a language designed for teaching such things and almost trivial to learn, students practised problem-solving with IT rather than spending the six weeks learning to use some application.
I investigated what other teachers were doing with the given curriculum. They spent several weeks teaching how to use Visual Basic… rather than teaching IT. News Alert! Teachers are not supposed to be salesmen for big corporations! I had students master the basics of Pascal the first week and they never slowed down. I gave them three problems to solve, each of increasing complexity and they were able to solve them by the end of six weeks using all the techniques of the whole high-school computer science curriculum. Their computer science curriculum was three years of deadly boring stuff where they waited for years to introduce the complicated subject of “functions”. In the technology courses, teachers were encouraged to teach multiple modules in parallel, something few did because it was easier for the teacher…
One of my standard lessons to students was to demonstrate the tremendous power of computers that were “old and slow”. They immediately see that M$ has been burdening PCs with bloat for decades trying to slow them down to sell more licences… That’s not a recipe for good IT. Even an ancient PIII is a powerful tool when unleashed with GNU/Linux.
Many teachers in North America have been taught and use methods that just don’t work for IT. The last thing they want to teach are “brute force” methods because they are “not elegant” etc. Guess what? A maze with diagonal sides is just a series of triangles and students in Grade 8 or so are quite familiar with triangles… so the problem that amazed Google’s guy is really quite trivial given the computer’s innate ability to process lists of things. In some ways, mathematics curriculums have overtaken computer science curriculums in respecting brute force. Computers are rather poor at dealing with grand ideas. Limiting IT in approach is foolish. Let computers keep things simple and they fly.
Given a school where M$’s stuff is the only way to do IT and one that embraces FLOSS, guess which students learn more and faster? The students using FLOSS. The world can make its own software quite easily using FLOSS techniques. There is absolutely nothing big corporations have to contribute to that. Just look at M$’s issues with H1B visas. M$ is importing talent because it can’t find enough in the education IT system that it spread through the USA. There are many more clever people around the world than are found in big US corporations.
I recommend using FLOSS for everything: education, business, personal applications, servery, databasery,… It all works. Try Debian GNU/Linux. If there’s something missing from their repository you can likely find FLOSS on the web that does what you want or you can make it yourself or with help. I only have a few pieces from outside Debian and they are all FLOSS. I do far more with IT than the typical old fat guy. I don’t let Wintel hold me back. Why should you?