Any Teacher That Can Be Replaced By A Computer Should (And Deserves To) Be

March 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

Originally penned by Arthur C Clarke in his 1980 book entitled Electronic Tutors and later adapted and updated if you like, by David Thornburg, it is the idea that a teacher if they are not able to engage students, if they are unable to fully utilise their inter-personal skills may as well be replaced by a computer. After all it would be a lot more cost effective and simple for today’s youth to learn all they needed by simply reading text or watching videos on a computer screen.

If a student can type in “www.youtube.com” search the keywords “trigonometry easy tutorial” and in about 15 seconds find a youtube channel such as this one, that contains videos that are by their very nature much more interactive and engaging than simply copying from a text book or solving problems again and again and again and again and again… Sorry, where was I? Oh yes… If this is the case then why on earth don’t students just learn this way? Who needs somebody to tell them to copy from the bored (Pun intended)?

We have all had that experience in high school of walking out at the end of a double period of english or history, after over an hour of doing nothing but handwriting notes from the black or whiteboard with a sore hand, heavy eyes and having not remembered a single thing you have written down. Why could this kind of lesson not be replaced by watching a documentary on Nazi Germany or listening to an interview with Louis Nowra followed by reflective exercises and discussion?

I know that asking a class of year 8 students to copy out of a text book is probably the easy option, such a lesson doesn’t require all that much thought to create but I ask you, does it instigate any thought? I would say no, critical thought is just not prompted by this kind of “lesson” . A teacher willing to skate by producing lessons such as the one mentioned above, in my opinion could and should be replaced by a computer. A teacher is someone who facilitates learning and initiates critical engagement with some kind of subject matter. This process requires more than a single, one-sided method. It requires several creative approaches that form a complex strategy. A strategy that caters for all kinds of learners.

Strategies  for teaching children and young adults effectively has to continuously evolve along with both the students themselves as well as the technologies that are ever becoming available. I believe a teacher’s training is never truly over. A great teacher must always remain open to new teaching methodologies, technologies and knowledge. Teaching is about more than simply standing and delivering a lesson. A computer could quite easily be programmed to do such a thing. It is about providing a comprehensive learning environment and experience that caters for the different kinds of people that enter a classroom or other learning space.

Please feel free to leave comments, I am always up for discussion on these kinds of topics.

Thank you,

– Doug

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