[Tugindia] LaTeX in schools

Radhakrishnan CV cvr at river-valley.org
Sat Apr 5 10:43:51 CEST 2003

>>>>> "Rai" == H S Rai <hsraidce at iitr.ernet.in> writes:

    Rai> Is there any possibility to introduce LaTeX in schools. IMO
    Rai> exposure of LaTeX in schools may be useful. As after MS word
    Rai> being tought in schools, later students find it odd to use
    Rai> LaTeX. 

This is what I am scared most. There was an occasion to introduce TeX
in schools when there was a discussion in the school-linux list of
Delhi Linux Users Group about creating content for children at different
school levels. The content generators include any knowledgeable person
apart from students and teachers.

The format of the content to be archived was discussed at length,
eventually favouring XML. There was further discussion about how to
create content, majority of the listers favoured MS Word, the excuse
being most of the teachers and students are familiar with this beast.

At this point, I intervened with the idea of introducing LaTeX for
content creation. I offered to provide a tutorial for novice level
LaTeX, a specialized and user friendly class for content creation,
supporting packages and setup for translation of these LaTeX documents
into any XML format conformant to the DTD that the list agrees to adopt.

I was hopefully looking forward to a chance to tell the young people
about what typography means, its subtle nuances, aesthetic
sensibilities, how TeX strives to preserve the age-old wisdom of
typography in the digital age with all its finesse while its
counterparts conveniently forget, document structuring (most of the
word processor users don't even think about the hierarchial tree
structure of a document at all, for them a section is a heading with a
bold and large font and not a logical unit of the document),
preservation and future useasability for generations to come with
technologies unknown now, but invented in future.

However, it was turned down as swiftly as it was told on the pretext
that they don't want to introduce more and more horrendous schemes and
newer technologies into children's world. I remember, this is the
typical excuse to use Windows rather than switching to Linux by
decision makers. We, the free software enthusiasts do the same crime.
I didn't argue, but couldn't help wonder, can these children learn
only what they knew previously or the set theorey, modern algebra and
the like they learn in their classes are trivial/easy to learn and are
they not newer things to them?

Later, when two children from this list successfully created open type
fonts for Devanagri and released them under LGPL (the fonts attracted
even Microsoft!), I thought how misconceived are the seniors in the
list about the potentialities of our children!



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