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Will Teachers Ever Be Replaced by Robots?

Posted by Joe Clarkin on Jun 16, 2015 4:00:00 AM
Topics: K-12, future of education

The answer to our titular question is a short one: probably not. But with technology in the classroom becoming more and more common, it's still a fun thought exercise, right? (Teachers everywhere shake their heads no). Well either way, by reading this brief article from Edutopia, you'll see why it's an unlikely outcome for the future of education, and how there are certain things that human educators can do that robots could only hope to ever achieve. Check out an excerpt from said article below.


What Real Teachers Do

A few years ago, I read John Medina’s book, Brain Rules, which is an enlightening look at the human brain. There are chapters on sleep, stress, how we learn, memory, the senses -- all of the things that teachers consider in their practice. Perhaps, if artificial intelligence technology were to advance significantly enough, a cyborg could do some parts of a teacher's job, but a human brain is nimble, and a teacher's ability to sense the emotional, physical, and developmental state of 20-30 young minds and bodies all at once is a truly human ability.

In addition, every brain is wired differently. This is why sticking a student in front of a computer to learn without a teacher is only effective some of the time. Some people's brains are naturally wired to learn that way, while others aren't. No matter how you differentiate the learning experience on a computer, there are going to be some kids who just need the interaction with a teacher or classmate to fully understand the concepts they are learning. In some ways, sticking a kid in front a computer is similar to replacing a teacher with a robot. Often, it is in those small side conversations or questions that teachable moments and "aha!" moments arise. I can't imagine a robot having its curiosity piqued by a student's question and then shifting gears on the lesson to address a nuance in the content or a connection that a student has made.

As for memory, the human brain can only handle so much information at one time. It takes years of repetition and application for a memory to "stay" in the brain. There is no way to simply "implant" a memory there, and from what we know about how people learn, just knowing something doesn't mean that knowledge will transfer to our everyday lives. A computer or a robot can teach repetition, but only a skilled teacher can design learning experiences that teach skills and concepts while providing real opportunities for students to apply these skills to new situations. This is not true of just academic or school-based learning. Apprentices have been learning from mentors for centuries. This is also the fundamental core of parenting, a child's first exposure to "teaching."

About Joe Clarkin

Joe Clarkin is a former copywriter at MBS. When he’s not working or studying, you’re most likely to find him reading a book or watching a game.

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