[Tugindia] LaTeX in schools

yoga at math.iisc.ernet.in yoga at math.iisc.ernet.in
Sat Apr 5 14:00:03 CEST 2003

On Fri, 4 Apr 2003, H S Rai wrote:

> Is there any  possibility to introduce LaTeX  in schools. IMO exposure
> of  LaTeX in  schools may  be useful. As  after MS  word being  tought
> in  schools, later  students  find  it odd  to  use  LaTeX. It may  be
> even  started as  hobby  classes, optional  subject  or compulsory  at
> appropriate level.

I would argue that the education in schools needs to be oriented 
towards basic skills and not the use of `tools.' IMO, LaTeX is an example 
of a very good tool but only that. Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory 
`computer science' curriculum even at undergraduate level leave alone at 
schools! In this connection I would like to draw your attention to two  
articles by Martin Vermeer which argues for Linux in schools:

1. http://www.linuxgazette.com/issue28/vermeer2.html
2. http://linuxtoday.com/stories/1846.html

On the other hand, I would whole-heartedly support TeX and friends to be
introduced at hobby classes. Here again I would prefer TeX to LaTeX as the
emphasis at this level needs to be more basic than at producing good end
products. I would introduce TeX and leave them to discover LaTeX by
themselves as and when needed, for example when producing their school 
magazine or wall paper. 
> At least it may be more suitable as vocational course in ITI level.

This is certainly possible and worth exploring.

> BTW, GOD may impart common sense to resposible persons who decide what
> to teach in  school at what level  and how. Son of my  friends used to
> say "Papa's  computer has  interesting stuff, but  what ever  is being
> tought  at  his  school  is boring". In  schools  students  are  being
> imparted training on  pirated MS office (what type of  future they are
> shaping).  In class 4, students are  made to write RT45 (right turn 45
> degree) or  LT90 (left  turn 90  degree) or  REPEAT360, in  LOGO, when
> students are not exposed to concept of angles, its measurement. That's
> why I stressed `appropriate level' above.

The problem seems to be that not many seem to know what could be taught 
under `computer science' in schools but presently this subject must figure 
in the list of subjects of even primary schools to attaract students! At 
primary level, for example, I would suggest introducing basic notions of 
counting, sorting, searching, pattern recognition. For practical sessions 
LOGO is not bad.

Actually, the point is any subject which enters newly at school level will 
take time before it `matures'. About 20 (?) years ago I suppose there was 
no separate computer science course at universities. But now it has seeped 
down to even primary schools and as one of the basic skills a human being 
should know along with (and not at the cost of!) reading, `riting and 
`rithmetic. May be it will take a few more years to settle.


C S Yogananda
Dept. of Mathematics
Indian Institute of Science
Bangalore - 560012
Ph: 3942265 (O)
    6524056 (R)

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