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Re: [Fcp-general] Free Curriculum Project Status Update

From: Michael Schrader
Subject: Re: [Fcp-general] Free Curriculum Project Status Update
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 07:24:46 -0700
User-agent: Mutt/1.2.5i

This is my first post to the mailing list.  My name is Michael Schrader
and I used to be a coworker with Peter.  I became interested in this
project after seeing that Peter was the founder, and because I believe
it's an honorable and worthy goal.

My professional background involves computer work, both Unix and
Windows.  My personal interests pertain to history, writing, astronomy,
philosophy and more recently health and nutrition.

I attended a religious private school during some of my late grammar
school years, and I believe, regardless of the spin they placed upon
the curriculum, their approach was more beneficial than the public
school system's.  My father had to make a choice whether or not to send
me to a school that differed with our religion for the higher quality
education, or throw me to the wolves.  I'm thankful he decided upon the
former, despite my rejection of organized religion.

I agree with Peter's mission statement regarding the branching that
will undboutedly manifest itself throughout this project.  Parents all
have goals for their child's education, but many are 'satisfied' with
the institutionalalized solution.  I think we'll reach the broadest
spectrum of parents and achieve the highest level of success via being
adaptable and modularized in the layout.  Peter mentions that some
people may want the science material from the more rigid
'conservatives', but then perhaps would prefer their child benefit from
the less censored literature section of the 'hippies'.  With a
modularized layout, they'd have this freedom to sort of 'create their
own package' so to speak.  Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself, but
hopefully, this will spawn more conversation about the layout.

We have to be careful to present various takes on subjects and let the
parents decide which goggles they'll have their children wear.  As
idealistic as we want to be with this project, we have to accept that
you cannot present 'the real facts' for everything, as they are not
necessarily verifiable.  Notably, history is multi-faceted, and the
same event(s) can be cast in a completely different light (or shadow)
when cultural, religious or philsophical 'templates' are superimposed
upon the source material.  One world's butcher is another world's
hero.  Most likely, the real truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Perhaps I'm missing the whole point of the project or violating its
scope somehow.  If I am, please correct me before I go further.

On the more technical side of things...

I am familiar with CVS from a user standpoint, but have never set up a
server.  I will look into how others do it, both via the FAQ/HOWTO
related recommendations, as well as how we do it where I currently
work.  I'll keep you posted on how much I can glean from these sources
in the near future.

I can likely also assist with the website as well.  I'll let Peter
coordinate the division of labor or at least, decide what he needs help
with regarding website layout.

I work nights, and sleep during the day so I don't know how many people
of the below list I'd be able to contact, so I'll concentrate my
efforts upon what I can assist with, which is the more technical
aspect.  I can likely find decent converters or write my own for the
various formats people would like to use.  I think we would benefit
from using a common one like Peter recommends, but also realize that
people will often be more productive with their own editing tools.  If
people submit what they're comfortable using (or learning how to use),
we'll be one step closer to the ability to put all this stuff into CVS
and get the project going.

I'm no stranger to documentation, and I know it gets bogged down in the
mud if the wheels stop spinning.  Blitzkrieg philosophy is often
beneficial, at least in the first-draft composition phase, and then
obviously, you'd forsake that for a slower 'editing phase' allowing the
group to collectively bless or condemn the work before it's submitted.

Note for those that are not used to lists:

When replying, either reply directly to the list, or reply to all, so
the list is one of the recipients.  You can change options on if you
recieve your own posts, a day's aggregate worth of posts (digest) vs
the individual mails, plus other options, so I encourage everyone to
decide on how they want to receive these emails.


On Sat, Aug 09, 2003 at 02:57:59PM -0600, Peter Hutnick wrote:
> Hello,
> I'm writing to update everyone on the project and to encourage input and
> participation.
> I have abandoned the CS text I was working on in favor of "How to Think
> Like a Computer Scientist" by  by Allen B. Downey, Jeffrey Elkner and
> Chris Meyers.  It is distributed both in electronic and paper formats
> under the terms of the FDL by the Green Tea press.  See
> http://www.ibiblio.org/obp/thinkCSpy/ and
> http://www.greenteapress.com/thinkpython/ for more information.
> I have contacted the authors, who state that the book is being used as a
> High School text, and encourage us to use it for the FCP CS text.
> I am continuing my work on the Algebra text.  I have received
> encouragement and an offer of help off list.  I will post a link to what
> I have so far (not much :-(  ) to the list in the next few days.
> I have held back from adding either text to CVS as we don't have a
> structure for the CVS repository laid out yet.  I'm not an expert on
> CVS, and I'm hoping someone on the list can suggest how to set it up in
> a way that we won't regret later.
> Another reason that I hesitate is that we haven't nailed down any
> document formatting rules yet.  I'm soliciting comments from all of you.
>  I am open to all suggestions, as long as they stick to open formats and
> Free tools.  We need something that will work well on screen as well as
> print.  LaTeX "source" with HTML, PDF, and PostScript->paper output
> seems like the obvious solution to me, but this puts a lot of technical
> demand on the author.
> We also ought to contact the Project Gutenberg folks about the
> possibility of redistributing some of their texts under the terms of the
> FDL.  Any volunteers?
> I contacted an outfit called McREL (http://www.mcrel.org/) about using
> some of their materials.  They were unwilling to provide them under the
> terms of the FDL.  I may have been unable to adequately explain the
> difference between this and releasing their works into the public
> domain.  If anyone happens to have a contact at this organization your
> help would be greatly appreciated.
> I suppose that another task at hand is developing a list of possible
> resources.  Here's a start:
> - Non-profit orgs with compatible goals (such as McREL).
> - Public schools.  This one is complex.  Most, as I understand it, get
> all of their materials from private suppliers.  I have to imagine that
> some, at least, develop their own curriculum in-house.  Since this is
> done with public funds it seems that we might be able to obtain
> non-exclusive use.
> - Private schools.  This may be counter-intuitive, but private schools
> may have more leeway to work with us.  Parochial schools are prime
> candidates.
> - Sources of public domain works.  Gutenberg, libraries, etc.
> - Private individuals.  Notably parents who home school.
> Finally, I'd like to ask everyone to introduce yourself.  Let us know a
> little about your background, why you are interested in the FCP, what
> you hope to get from the FCP, what you are willing to do for the FCP,
> what your talents are, etc.  I am particularly interested to hear what,
> if any, knowledge or involvement you've had with Free (and/or Open
> Source) Software.
> I would genuinely like to hear from each and every one of you.
> Thank you.
> -Peter
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