Teachers v Computers – No Contest!

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When I speak around the country, I get the those in attendance to raise their hand if they had a favourite teacher at school – invariably everyone has a favourite teacher – an indication in itself of the impact we have on people’s lives.

I then ask them to keep their hands raised if this teacher taught one of their favourite subjects – the overwhelming majority of hands stay in the air.

It’s a powerful message for teachers to get in the digital age, when there are many suggesting that the rise of online classes (in particular the maths focused  Kahn Academy) will see computers replacing teachers.

It’s a powerful message because it’s likely that your favourite subject at school was so, because of the teacher and not vice versa.

People engage with people. Kids engage with teachers first – subjects second.

Technology can certainly enhance the learning experience, but on its own can not provide an engaging one.

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6 Comments on “Teachers v Computers – No Contest!

  1. Dan
    You raise a good point. The human brain is wired so strongly to emulate the behaviour of others, I doubt that teachers will ever be replaced by technology. Sites like Khan are an excellent adjunct (even paradigm shift) to classroom education, and offers many appealing advantages – not the least of which that it allows teachers to better direct their time and attention to individual students, rather than than to a large, amorphous throng of students, the middle of which is usually – and ineffectively – the target.

    Many of my ‘problem’ students use Khan very effectively, freeing my time up considerably so that when necessary, I spend valuable one-on-one time with them – where I suspect they learn a lot more than maths!

    • Greg,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Absolutely – technology is an excellent adjunct, and it’s great to hear that it is supporting what you do!
      I am concerned that there are many who see technology as the “silver bullet” for learning in the 21st century, but the way you describe it, seems a nice fit.

  2. I was just discussing this with my Society and Culture students this week. They said there is nothing like a teacher’s passion to motivate them into being interested and thus willing to put in the effort and time towards the subject.

    • It’s an important point… if the teacher doesn’t seem interested in the kids or the subject… why should the students be interested in the teacher or what he’s got to offer?
      Your kids sound a good bunch!
      Cheers for the comment!

  3. Computers can’t give us the encouragement, compassion and understanding we need while learning. I’ll never forget Mr C my English teacher who told me I was creative, or Mr A my Economics teacher who at a school social function took me aside and said ‘you can pass this if you choose’…sure he was very good looking and one could attribute a crush to my motivation but as the kids of today would say ‘whatever works’!. And it did…I passed so thank you to the teachers who touch hearts…(not sure I’ve had technology do that)!

    • I listened to an American guy called Jim Knight speak at the Positive Psychology in Education Symposium in Sydney this year.
      He spoke that in times when all the efforts seem to be around “standardising” education… we need to “humanise it.”
      I think that it what you describe… maybe?
      Thanks for your comment!

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