Are Teachers Obsolete?

I keep hearing that this is The Age of Technology. True. More so now than ever before and not as much as it will be in a few years. We rely on computers for banking, socializing, shopping, and so much more. There isn't a day that I don't sit at my computer to accomplish a task or communicate with someone. I've read countless posts and articles about the things that will be obsolete in a few years thanks to the advancement of technology. I have to wonder ... will teachers become obsolete?

Will the need for a warm, breathing human in the classroom be replaced by online learning? All colleges offer online learning and many public schools incorporate one-to-one learning experiences for their students and provide personal devices for their student's use. Many elementary schools don't 'waste' their time teaching cursive handwriting since we are a print society living in the digital age. Most lessons require some form of technology and every school offers computer classes.  Books are read online, lessons are turned in online, and communication between teacher-student or teacher-parent is completed online.

 But what are we missing? Compassion. Dialogue. Social Skills. Understanding. Patience. Warmth. The human touch. The heart of teaching and the lessons learned from error.  The ability to communicate a solution or present a problem or simply ask someone how they are doing.  Education is being dumbed down to meet the basic skill of using a computer. Yes, someone who is  self-considered to be a computer idiot, just said that computer skills are basic. I realize that it takes intelligence to perform tasks on the computer. I realize that there are countless things that I do on my computer that I wouldn't be able to do otherwise, but I also realize that I am responsible for 'telling' my computer what to do. And, if I can do it, so can anyone else.

I would rather see kids learning how to use their brain to solve math problems than to rely on a calculator. I would rather see kids holding a book, rather than a device. I would rather see kids problem solving in groups than sending each other text messages. I want kids to read cursive and write in cursive so that the skill isn't lost. I want them to have the confidence to read a contract and sign it in their own handwriting.

We are racing towards the edge. Will we fall over the edge and let go of the things the world calls antiquated, but that we know are still good for our kids? Will we let spell checking programs replace spelling and sight words? Will we let audio books replace sounding out words and reading?  Will we allow calculators to replace mental math?  Will we sit back while teachers are being replaced by technology?

We wouldn't stand for it in a hospital. We would demand to speak to a human being, preferably one trained in medicine. And, how many times have you called to discuss a concern or billing question and gotten trapped in an automated system? We've all spent hours trying to talk to a human. We've all sent emails to a business that go ignored and unanswered.

So, are teachers becoming obsolete? I do agree that education is changing. But, I refuse to believe that technology can replace, with any success, a teacher. They just can't design a robot or device to match everything a teacher does or is. However, if they want to build one to take my place on the playground or in a meeting, I'm all for it!



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