There is no bigger hot button than telling someone they might lose their job. What is even worse is to tell them their whole job type will be obsolete.
I’m not here to say that… Yet.
Ok so here’s the deal. Right now our Education system is very low tech and labor intensive. Many other industries used to be like that. For example, look at farming. 200 years ago 90% of the US population farmed. Today it’s about 1-2%. (source) What happened is technology and modern farming methods have vastly improved efficiency.
Now I know what you are thinking, children aren’t carrots. They are individuals that have their own hopes, dreams and skills. That’s true, however our current education system doesn’t treat them like children either. It treats them like identical products that are produced from the school factory.
I think every teacher who reads this agrees that we wish our education system produced better quality children. You have to realize though that standardization of teaching will produce a standardized product. Children aren’t being put in a situation where they can fully develop what their skills and talents are. I have been pondering what the single biggest factor in this failure is, and I have a good post brewing for next week. For now consider this:
The best way to teach someone something is with a 1:1 teacher to student ratio. Yes that’s right, if every kid had their own personal teacher, that would be ideal. A few centuries ago, the children of the rich learned like this. The problem with that system is it doesn’t scale well. I don’t get bent out of shape by people who argue for smaller class sizes; I figure once you go over 1 student, it changes the dynamics. So what is going to happen here?
Back to replacing teacher with computers. Within 10 years, computer technology will have advanced to the point where you will be able to have a personal tutor always with you. From a very young age, the personal tutor will help guide the child to explore their gifts and talents. The tutor will be able to download free/low cost lessons from the net at any appropriate time. For example: if a child goes to the zoo, the tutor will be able to provide lessons on what their are seeing and experiencing. The parents will be always kept informed of how their child is developing. Learning will happen at any time, in any place, and for however long it takes.
Now I know what you are thinking again. (Hmm blog mind reading!) You can’t make a connection with a piece of technology!!!! Really? I have a GPS unit in my car. I call her Alice. (To the Moon Alice!) Have you ever named a piece of technology? Named your car? Computer? It’s amazing that when a technology starts acting like it has a personality, we tend to anthropomorphize it. We know these things aren’t real and don’t have personalities, and yet we still do it. Children today spend a lot of time with friends they only know from online. I submit that these children will readily take to computer based tutors and will even think of them as friends.
Does this mean that teachers will be replaced completely? Nope. There are still lots of farmers around today. It’s just that we don’t need 50,000 teachers teaching English at the same time in the same way to little groups of kids. Technology can make things much more efficient in some areas of education. In a regular business, this would have happened already, but of course public education is not a business. There are a lot of other factors involved that like having an army of teachers around.
The future is coming like a Stormfront. The one thing I can leave you with, is this: Nothing is certain now. All of your conceptions of education are now up for review. All of them, including if you need a teacher at all.
I am interested in if people agree or disagree with my thinking. Please comment if you want to discuss this!
Check out this video and imagine your kids growing up with a similar system on their cell phone. Also there was an article in the NYT called Students, Meet your New Teacher, Mr. Robot.