Will technology ever replace the teacher?

The Next Education Renaissance Is Human ― Not Technological

Just read this article in EdSurge News and the answer is of course no. We all know that, at least all of us who are in the classroom. Who will replace teachers? When will teachers be replaced? This is not a new question. I know many have pondered on the importance of cartoons, tv, video…. to take the place of the teacher. If you Google the question you will find that these are some of the common searches regarding this topic; Can Google replace teachers? Can artificial intelligence replace teachers? Can Robot replace teachers? Can artificial intelligence replace doctors? You might even find this article written by the BBC in 2014. Could computers replace teachers in the classroom? In the school of the future tablets might replace textbooks and social media could be at the heart of teaching. But in at least one school in Norway this isn’t a vision of the future – it is now.

IT is early morning at Pleasantville High School and three students have gathered for their French class. Their “bon jour” is not addressed to a live teacher in the classroom, however; rather, they say “good morning” to a television set.

This class is being conducted by interactive television, a video system that allows people in two separate places to speak to and see one another. Ben Matteo Jr., Mauria Miller and Christina Telesco of Pleasantville are full-fledged members of the French class taught by Adrienne F. Montillet at Westlake High School, which is in the Mount Pleasant School District. Source: New York Times 1991 

Anxiety about losing your job to technology is both a rational and growing fear. Andy Haldane, the chief economist at the Bank of England, recently estimated that 15m jobs in the UK were threatened by automation. Technology is reaching such levels of sophistication that it is capable not only of manual tasks but cognitive ones too, putting a wide range of jobs are at risk. The areas most vulnerable include driving and administrative work. But according to a report from Oxford University that looked at over 700 areas of work, teaching at all levels across the educational spectrum is a safe bet. The Guardian.

The article in the Guardian goes on to question why the proffesion of teachers is safe when you can attend any prestigious university, mooc or watch aKhan Academy course. The answer is in what the teacher does.

Teachers provide pastoral care, direct the Christmas play, recognise and assist vulnerable pupils, cover break-time duty, mentor new teachers, collate data about pupils’ attendance and behaviour, mark homework, rig lights and dress sets for school performances, order resources such as textbooks and classroom equipment, write newsletters, take school trips, assess pupil attainment, meet parents, spot potential terrorists (ahem) in accordance with the government’s Prevent guidelines, lead assemblies, make endless photocopies, and appraise other members of staff. This list is incomplete and already sounds like a lot for a piece of technology to cover. But if you’re looking for an easy and long-term job, this isn’t it: almost a third of teachers quit within five years.

Back to the original article; the article stresses that young people need time and support to reflect on how, as people, we should interact with each other and with our environments, beyond screens and virtual reality. The article uses Google as a source and goes on to list what Google sees as most important in its leaders.  Even at Google, leadership is human. And to sum it up; even in school, teaching is caring, teaching is human.

8 key characteristics of Google’s outstanding leaders

Ranked in the following order of importance:

  1. They’re good coaches.
  2. They empower their team and don’t micro-manage.
  3.  They express interest in their team members’ success and personal well-being.
  4. They are productive and results-oriented.
  5. They’re good communicators and they listen to the team.
  6. They help employees with career development.
  7. They have a clear vision and strategy for the team.
  8. They have key technical skills that help them advise the team.

Read the whole article here. 

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