Education Blogger: Mechanical Teacher
Is this the education of the future?
Picture little Margie sitting at her desk doing schoolwork. It’s May 17, 2155. What do you see?
Can you even imagine the year 2155?
Isaac Asimov did. He imagined it 70 years ago in his story, “The Fun They Had.” Local students recently read the story in
class and compared it to today.
While 2155 is still 134 years away, much of what Asimov envisioned is already here, some of it a result of COVID 19:
Margie didn’t have a tablet, but paper books no longer exist. Everything is on her TV screen. Asimov doesn’t mention “online” or the “Internet.” Maybe in 1951 that was just too much of a stretch.
Margie has a schoolroom at home.
She has a mechanical teacher (computer).
Margie’s mom makes Margie “go” to school.
There are tech issues - they’ll probably never totally go away (maybe we can add tech issues to death and taxes?)
The gist of the story is that Margie’s friend has found an actual book in his attic. The book is about school, brick and mortar school. Margie learns that students used to go to a school building, talk and play, and even learn together. She imagines what school must have been like and “the fun they had.”
Further investigation into future education revealed a site called, Debate.org. On the site the following question is posted, “Do you believe that in the future, schools will have no books and no teachers?” This was too much like Margie’s education not to read on.
The current percentages on the site indicate that 68% think that teachers and books will go away. 32% percent think books and teachers will continue. What do you think?
Comments on the site indicate that a robot could teach a concept over and over again until a student understood. But the other side said that a robot would only be able to teach the concept a few ways. A human teacher could adjust to the student’s needs and teach beyond the limits of computer programming.
Some kids can teach themselves needing little assistance. Other kids need a bigger nudge, and some kids need one-on-one help. All students can learn. They just learn differently.
The desire to learn must also be figured in. In the story, Margie’s mom must remind Margie that it’s time for school “because her mother said little girls learned better if they learned at regular hours.” By the way, Margie is 11 in the story. Tweens today would probably object to being called little girls.
It’s important to note that Margie wanted to read the book her friend found. She wanted to know more about the schools in the past. Did Asimov know when he wrote this story that there would be good things we should keep from the past and also good things in the future?
A final quotation from a post on the Debate.org site says, “No matter how much knowledge a robot has, it will never have the same passion, zeal, human interaction and nurturing that humans can provide.”
It doesn’t matter where you learn, just remember learning matters; don’t ever stop learning.
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