> These concepts do transfer to GIMP, and if one is generally empowering
> students with the ability to do manipulation on images.. teaching them
> how to do it with GIMP gives them both a skill and an option of a tool
> they can use without a fee; as well as have the freedom to improve in
> the other ways free software does. Pointing out that some things work
> better in Photoshop doesn't seem constructive in this discussion.

I was baffled to see how some GIMP people started to downplay GIMP as
not suitable for this particular need. It's a school teacher trying to
get kids into the basics of image manipulation, not a high grade
training for the print industry!
GIMP is absolutely suitable for this task, and it can be used in real
world environments too. I use it everyday for my professional design
work. I have to work around some edge cases, of course, but for most
of my work it is usable (and I send works to different print providers
in a daily basis).
I don't care much about CMYK since I use intermediate/late binding,
but the lack of higher bitdepth is indeed a hurdle when I work with
narrow range monochrome gradients or alpha channels.
Anyway, I don't see how some gradient banding or the loss of precision
with some filters could be a real concern for kids learning the basics
of image manipulation, at least to the point of considering to replace
GIMP, which is free, with an expensive commercial application.
And even in that case, GIMP uses the same principles than Photoshop,
so you can use it to learn to work layers, blending modes, masks,
filters, selections, levels, curves, color balance, cloning, healing,
etc. It's all there.

Apart from that, I'm with pippin about the premature CMYK conversion.
I came out of the University (where I studied graphic design) with a
rather limited knowledge about color management, thinking that early
binding was the only way to work for print and that with the right
CMYK values I would get perfect Pantone colors :-p
When I switched to free software and met GIMP I had to learn some
basics again to work without CMYK and the quality of my prints
improved a lot, because that time I knew what I was doing.
Of course there are cases when the access to CMYK separations is
useful, but I would have preferred that they teach me to work with
color management properly and learn to tweak CYMK later.
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