The Future of Teachers?

I love my Ipod. So does my four-year-old daughter. She loves it so much that she pickpockets it out of my purse regularly to play games. The other day she was showing my mom the kindergarten readiness game she likes. She pointed to the little mouse at the top of the screen and said, “She’s my teacher.”

Later that night (because these kinds of things happen together), I was reading the chapter on “Wiring” in the book Brain Rules. The author, John Medina, shares a study that showed students who used a computer-based reading program improved their reading ability. Since he isn’t selling anything, I have to assume that this was a real study and not just a “look how well our workbook works” kind of study.

As a real live, flesh and blood teacher, this kind of bothers me. All the work I put into making strong lessons and interesting classes…can I really be replaced by a machine? Of course my instinct is to yell, “No, I’m too valuable a commodidty to be replaced no matter how cute the virtual teacher may be.” I’m sure factory workers thought this as well before being booted out to make room for robots. I am sort of feeling like a relic of the past. Someday my students will be saying to their kids, “When I was your age, we had to go listen to PEOPLE at school, not like your fancy, shmancy avatar teachers.”

I should say that this morning, my daughter brought the Ipod to me so we could do the reading flash cards together (she has other games, I swear), and in the book, Medina goes on to state that students who had both teachers and computer software gained the most in reading-both were necessary, so perhaps there’s hope.

But maybe I should work on my resume just in case. Sigh.


1 Comment

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One response to “The Future of Teachers?

  1. Perhaps consider the type of reading the computer “taught?” Which finite set if skills did it define as reading? For which set did the researcher assess? Did it assess for joy? Did it see if the student could read up in her favorite genre? Did it recommend books? Put together RSS feeds for her?

    There is a lot of promise in blending learning for bringing sound reading gains in decoding, fluency, and comprehension to struggling readers.

    It remains up to teachers, for now, to model and help students establish their own intertextual, intratextual, and personal connections to texts that help us all understand what it is to be human.

    All the best,

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