Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page
Today’s Huffington Post blog by Larry Strauss addresses head-on the concern some teachers have of being replaced by technology. Anyone who has observed the link between technology innovation and downsizing in other industries would have to acknowledge this is not an irrational fear. Andrew Coulson’s Wall Street Journal Op-Ed lamenting the “teacher surplus” likely heightens this anxiety.
But, this notion of a virtual classroom without real human interaction is hard to embrace as a real possibility for the masses, because, for most students, the social part of school is what keeps them coming back. We’ve become so overwhelmed by the media’s hyped bullying coverage that we’ve forgotten that the majority of kids enjoy school, both because that’s where their friends are, and because they enjoy interacting with their teachers. Numerous studies have noted that students who have a strong relationship with at least one adult in their school are significantly less likely to drop out.
This makes complete sense. When kids are young, they are shameless about expressing their overwhelming preference to spend time with their parents above all other human beings. Once they enter school, those same kids start to shift their affection to their teachers. (Do you remember the first time you called your teacher “Mom?”) As they evolve into adolescence and beyond, some kids more readily express affinity for their favorite teacher than for either parent (though, we parents know they still really need us deep down inside.)
I am not alone in believing that technology can and should be doing more to improve K-12 education. But, the value of that technology will be realized in the hands of skilled teachers who develop emotional connections with their students. Teachers v. technology is a false choice. Teachers well-supported by technology is where we are headed.