Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for June 14, 2011

Will (Or Can) Computers Replace Teachers?

As I listened to my favorite radio station this morning, the hosts made reference to an article,  “Will teachers be replaced by computers?”  The hosts made jokes, but I took this question seriously. 

“As long as schools measure performance simply by rote memorization on multiple-choice tests, no teacher can compete with instant access to the world’s information. Unless schools change, more and more teachers will find themselves replaced by computers.”

But that’s the point, we should not measure performance based on rote memorization.  As a country, we are always pushing critical thinking.  In the classroom, we are all given copies of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and told to encourage higher level thinking.  In reality though, we know what we are asked to do, get our students to pass a test at the end of the school year.  The author of this article is correct, a computer can do this.

But, it raises a number of questions for me. 

 More than 50% of my students do not have access to the Internet.  They might have computers in their homes, but Internet access is not a necessity for most of them, not when the bills have to be paid. For the life of me, I can not see how computerized instruction can meet the needs of all students.  Will different programs be developed for each student?   And let’s say each student does have Internet access, it’s hard enough to get some students to work in the classroom under your nose.  What is their motivation at home?  At home, with food, friends, music, and the latest tech toys, who do you think will win that battle in most homes, school or fun? 

What about social issues?  Think about the child who comes to school and receives the only two meals of the day they will get. The child who has someone notice that they are being abused.  The child who has no friends outside of school, or lives in a home where the television is his/her only friend. Presently, our students are lacking in every day social skills due to texting, Facebook, Twitter, and the like. If you remove human interaction, how will they be able to function when they enter the work force or college?  I struggle to get parental involvement with students I see every day, how would I hold parents accountable? Sometimes, a child needs a hug, or a smile just to make it through the day, and not one they get through a monitor.

I am sick of hearing “We’re all about the kids.” Everything we do is “for the kids.”  It’s evident that this idea has nothing to do with our kids, it’s about money, and it always will be.

“Though teachers like Chris Kirchner of Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami have called Florida’s e-learning labs “nearly criminal” for removing the human component from instruction, schools teetering on bankruptcy will reasonably look for cheaper solutions to meet federal funding standards. Simply, interactive websites and textbooks can teach fractions and the stages of cell reproduction every bit as well as a lecturer.”

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