the kids are alright

[Because I am a big dork, this has been sitting in my drafts for a long time, since apparently I clicked "Save" instead of "Publish" or something. What fun!]

A little less than a year ago, beltzner and I met with a few people at Seneca College about a project that some students were about to undertake. The details of the project are themselves pretty interesting, but the really valuable takeaway for me turned out to be a connection with Prof. Dave Humphrey and others at Seneca who are interested in really baking open source work, technology, communities and principles into the educational experience.

Since that fateful day, we’ve embarked on a number of pretty exciting projects with Seneca, such as their hosting of hardware for development of MDC and AMO work, test environments, some pretty awesome buildbot hacking, multi-compiler support for distcc, and APNG support.

And, of course, the most excellently righteous “Topics in Open Source” course, which Dave is teaching for the first time this term, and in which I have been joined by several Mozilla compatriots in miseducating eager students about topics many and varied. As with most interesting things, it has not been all flowers and roses — entering our community can be daunting for even the most intrepid of newbies — but I think that some great stuff has and will come of it. The amount of energy and enthusiasm there is just ridiculous, and as a wiser man would have predicted I’m having a hard time keeping up with the students. Ah, to be young again.

A little more than a week from now, on October 26th and 27th, Mozilla is co-sponsoring Seneca’s Free Software and Open Source Symposium. A generous handful of Mozillians will be in attendance or speaking, and I predict ample opportunity to talk with Dave and his fellow crazy people about what they’re doing, what’s working so far, what we could try next, and how to get involved in whatever way strikes your fancy. The lineup of speakers looks pretty great, present company excepted of course, and it’s hard to imagine a better way to spend $20 of your open-source-self-education budget. Hope to see you there!

…has declared duly worthy of the honour…

I’m sitting in Kingston, at the esteemed Jock Harty arena, to witness Sara’s convocation as a Bachelorette of Education. Other than the fact that being on campus, even among the handful of Master’s candidates, makes me feel kinda old, and the fact that I’m staring down the barrel of 2 hours of people reading names in alphabetical order, it’s a pretty fun time.

I haven’t been in this building, to my recollection, since Tyla’s undergraduate convocation in 1999. It was hotter then, I remember, but then so was I, so who’s to judge? There’s so much achievement and effort represented here, and so much raw potential, that I can’t help but smile. (Also, there’s an adorable little boy in the row ahead of me, which doesn’t hurt either.)

The honorary degree recipient’s speech was pretty good, and I’m not just saying that because I agree with a lot of her points on the educational value of dialogue and joint exploration, contra pure didacticism and emphasis of fact or technique. Well-delivered, relevant, sufficiently inspiring, acceptably brief; hard to argue with that. Principal’s address wasn’t bad at all either, for that matter.

(I also find myself thinking of next year’s first graduates of Seneca’s Bachelor of Software Development as well, and what it might be like for them to usher in what could be — and I hope is — a powerful force for change in how software is built, thought about, and taught. Wonder if I can sneak in to watch that ceremony next spring, and maybe pluck a few especially talented graduates for my own mildly nefarious purposes, while they’re still dazed from the post-hooding head rush and flashbulb barrage.)

Sara, for her part, will be abducted and put to work educating our children as soon as Tyla and I get around to producing the obvious prerequisites. I figure she’ll be able to shape them nicely — if perhaps somewhat more left-leaning than the father might have done — until it’s time to hand them over to Kristen Beach for the teenage years. It took a decade and a half of scheming and plotting, but all the pieces are clearly coming together.

Maybe I’ll go to school once I get this web thing sorted out for once and for all. The kids in this room seem pretty chuffed about the whole thing, and I’m almost certain they’re still sober. [tags]mozilla, family, education[/tags]