Can Computers Replace Teachers?
Let me be clear: I love technology, and I use it everyday single day. I teach with it and I learn with it. Without technology, my teaching and my learning would suffer.
Let me be clear: Too much of what this video purports can and is being done in a way that is destroying public education.
Even though I am a staunch supporter of Public Education, I am very aware of the problems that plague traditional schooling. I believe that school needs to look a lot less like school. Like Sir Ken Robinson, I too am a supporter of a learning revolution where the goal is public schools that provide students with an opportunity to pursue their passions while nurturing competency, creativity and critical thinking.
However, there is more than one revolution afoot.
The promise of technology and personalization is being co-opted by the perils of profiteers and privatization where one goal is "an education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards." Another, more ominous goal is to use technology to cut costs by replacing teachers.
The first half of the video focuses on K-12. Here are my thoughts:
- Do we really want someone who prefers computers over humans to influence our education system?
- Too often technology is being sold as personalized learning when really it's nothing more than digitized standardized learning.
- Authentic personalized learning occurs when the teacher and student have a relationship that leads to them interacting in meaningful ways where the learner plays an active role in constructing their own understanding.
- Too many uses of technology doubles down on the assumption that the learner is a passive receptacle that knowledge must be dumped into.
- Substituting paper flash cards for a Flash Cards App is not progress. It's kind of like replacing the chalkboard with an Interactive Whiteboard. To argue in favor of such a move is to reveal a primitive understanding for how children learn.
- School and work have two very different purposes. At work, the product is the point. In school, the process is the point. When we lose focus of our purpose, our practices and policies are likely to become misguided and rigidity is likely to set in.
- Using KIPP as an example of innovation and success is problematic. KIPP notoriously suffers from large attrition rates amongst their staff and students. They also subscribe to a pedagogy of poverty which can be accelerated with technology.
- There are many impressive reasons for using technology in schools, and increasing class sizes is not one of them.
- In the future, poor children will get a computer while affluent children will get a computer and a teacher. See the problem?
- Too often when people talk about technology collecting data, they mean nothing more than test scores. Reducing something as magnificently messy as real learning to a number always conceals far more than it reveals.
- It's true that there are bad teachers, but this is true of all professions. There are bad doctors, lawyers, accountants and education pundits, but you don't make people better by plaguing a profession with fear and punishment. The solution to bad teachers is to talk about how we make more good teachers. Little good will come from talking about replacing teachers with computers.
- If you listen carefully, the only way this speaker, and others like her, can define success in a school is by superficial test scores.
- Merit Pay is the bad idea that won't die.
- Technology can be justified in three ways: data collection, assist teacher instruction or help children learn in a very personal way.
- Things go very bad when we let computers grade essays so why would we think allowing them to replace teachers would be a good idea?
- Too often technology is nothing more than a fancy way of doing what we've always done. YouTube tried to make multiple choice quizzes for their videos, but I hardly consider this to be innovative. Too often technology is used as a "shoehorn" -- that is, in a way that merely supplements traditional, less-than-optimal teaching and learning practices which ultimately leads the classroom to revert to the way it was before.
- Sometimes we mistake something like the Khan Academy and mistake it for something new when really it's just a slightly new spin on what we've always done -- this is called improvement without change.
- Technology is absolutely the wrong driver for education reform.
- There are many reasons why learning needs to be personalized for students and achieving higher test scores is not one of them.
- In 1954, B.F. Skinner talked about replacing teachers with "the teaching machine". There's nothing innovative about this idea.
- The dream of having learners intensely concentrate on using technology quickly becomes a nightmare when it is the technology that is using the learner. When children are mined for data, education becomes something done to them rather than by them.
- There is a reason why Seymour Papert said, "Before the computer could change School, School changed the computer."
- Sometimes technology is about the pupils and sometimes technology is about profits. Can you tell the difference?
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