I hope the Foundation folks say "Thank you, much appreciated", and let the kids decide.
That was pretty much what I spent the day saying.
Educators the world over have often decided to insulate and protect children from the gamut of choices available to them in the Real World(tm). I don't always agree with the extent to which we "protect" children, especially as they grow older and feel very limited by society's restrictions, but I believe some amount of guidance can be helpful.
Letting the children decide between Mathematica and alternatives sounds amazing to me, and I'm very appreciative that you proposed the idea.
Atmosphere among the educators in the room when Conrad announced it this morning was pretty electric.
What do these educators think about Sage and other alternatives to Mathematica? Do you think these educators are famiilar enough with the Pi system, Mathematica, and mathematics software alternatives such that they can explain the differences and pros/cons to their young charges?
If people don't like the fact that it's only free as in beer, there's always Sage.
Yes, there is Sage, but while Mathematica's efforts got a big boost with front page billing, I see nary an article about Sage Math on the RaspberryPi blog. Whereas you just "announced a partnership with Wolfram Research to bundle a free copy of Mathematica and the Wolfram Language into future Raspbian images" (the officially-built/recommended OS), I believe that Sage has never been included in these images.
If you do want to give schoolchildren a choice between the two of them, why not start by writing an article about Sage and putting it in the default install as well? Unlike Mathematica, children will be able to download and run Sage easily and for no fee on any Win/Mac/Linux computer accessible to them, which will allow them to start projects on the Pi and move to beefier hardware later, or start a project on a school computer and bring it home to their Pi.
If children are able to make an informed choice between Mathematica and Sage (or other alternatives), then I support their opportunity to do so. Computers and the software that lives upon them should be given to children to explore, investigate, break, and repair. To truly give our future generations an opportunity to see the beauty of hardware and code I believe we should allow them to tweak and fiddle with the frobs inside these complex systems. A closed-source package like Mathematica curtails the possibility of investigation and dampens the fires of curiosity and innovation that can be seen in children everywhere.
Give children a choice? Certainly. But make sure that our educators can provide our students with exploration limited only by one's own imagination.