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Are Teachers Headed For Obsolescence?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the school's-out-forever dept.

Education 570

dstates writes "One Laptop Per Child reports encouraging results of a bold experiment to reach the millions of students worldwide who have no access to primary school. OLPC delivered tablets to two Ethiopian villages in unmarked boxes without instructions or instructors. Within minutes the kids were opening the boxes and figuring out how to use the Motorola Zoom tablets, within days they were playing alphabet songs and withing a few months how to hack the user interface to enable blocked camera functionality. With the Kahn Academy and others at the high school level and massive open online courses at the college level, are teachers going the way of the Dodo?"

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Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happens (5, Interesting)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41803327)

Yeah, you try to implement something that threatens teacher jobs and just WATCH what happens, sparky. I was once part of an effort to design some online courses (just a few, mind you) for a local school district and learned the hard way to watch my step when treading anywhere near teachers. Unfortunately, my superiors made the STUPID mistake of pitching the program to the district as being a potential money-saver (since fewer teachers would be needed to oversee the online courses than traditional classroom courses). The teachers mobilized like a fucking Roman Legion.

Now, for those of you dumb enough to think that teachers are sweet old schoomarms with low salaries and little power...well, you just keep thinking that. But I know that they broadsided us like the a school bus. Suddenly, those sweet schoolmarms were on every newscast, decrying the courses as a poor substitute for classroom education, something that "cheated the students," as Satan incarnate basically. Their union was all but threatening to break legs. School district elected officials were told in no uncertain terms that the sweet schoolmarms were ready to bend them over and do bad things to them with a slide rule at the next election. We learned the hard way what happens when you threaten the schoolmarms' jobs in ANY way.

Needless to say, our online course plan was SIGNIFICANTLY modified. Most notably, provisions were added to make it clear that the online courses were to be treated exactly like classroom courses, with a teacher getting assigned to each one just as if he/she were in the classroom each day teaching it as a traditional course (even if they basically had to do nothing)--complete with the same class size limitations as a traditional course. Even though this all made no sense with online courses, it's what we had to do to get them implemented. Not a single teacher job was to be lost, nor salary reduced, nor workload increased (only significantly decreased).

Teachers and their unions are masters at playing the emotion card. And they are PR masters too. We're talking teachers, some of whom were making north of $80k a year in this district (and this was in an area with a relatively low cost of living, mind you), who were able to convince everyone that they weren't getting paid enough and needed raises (4-6% annual raises, EVERY YEAR). You fuck with them at your own peril.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (5, Informative)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#41803377)

where are you that teachers make $80K? That does not jive with national salary rates.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41803481)

where are you that teachers make $80K?

Europe . . . ?

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41803593)

More like Hong Kong, I suppose. :-) Or Taiwan, if the teacher are extremely unlucky!

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803669)

where are you that teachers make $80K?

Europe . . . ?

If I would get paid $80k a year for teaching in Europe I would move back immediately. When I left I barely got half of that a year.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803685)

Then it would be 80k €, no? Would be weird to use $.....

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803545)

SanFran, LA, Chicago, Seattle and NYC to name a few.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (2, Informative)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 2 years ago | (#41803549)

Try New York City, for one. You do need to eat if for a few years and get your Masters degree, but the pay does become quite good.

Particularly when you consider that it comes with a three month vacation. And before you start with how teachers are doing work during the summer, date a couple of teachers, especially the lower grades.

80k for living in NYC? (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 2 years ago | (#41803797)

So... you consider 80k to pay for living in NYC quite good pay, when you got a Masters degree?

You got to be fucking kidding me, that is low pay for a tech flunkie.

And you contract yourself, how many teachers for lower grades got a Masters degree?

My bet is your a republican by the ease by which you select among several made up statistics to combine in a non-existing entity which you claim to represent everything.

Proof me wrong, become a teacher if the pay is so good and the vacations that long, you would have to be an idiot not to switch. So why haven't you? Because you know you are pulling stats out of your ass?

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (4, Interesting)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41803559)

They didn't all make that (I believe the average is $52k in my state). But quite a few of them did. You can imagine what 30 years of 4-6% yearly raises and bonuses for tons of other stuff (incl. a $9,000 a year bonus for becoming nationally certified) would get you to from an already generous starting salary. Teachers were actually some of the better paid people in the county I was in.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803575)

Look up Chicago. _average_ salary is 76k. Starting salary is north of 60k.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803603)

In places where cost of living is so high you need that to afford a decent place in a shitty neighborhood and put food in your belly.

What really sucks is being a teacher in the south... you get shit pay and cost of living is going up, so you're practically poor.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

badrobot (864703) | about 2 years ago | (#41803645)

Canada My teacher friends in Toronto (in their early 30s) make 70-80k. Toronto is an expensive place to live, but I was still kind of floored to get this news. I have been told by friends in the local school system (in our small city about an hour outside Toronto) that a handful of senior teachers in our city are making over 100k. Yeah, that's more than most of the developers I know (including myself).

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#41803723)

canadian $ != american $ though

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (5, Insightful)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 2 years ago | (#41803777)

True, the Canadian dollar is worth 0.000371$ less than the US dollar. What a significant difference that makes.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803807)

1 Canadian dollar = 1.0003 US dollars

Things are a bit more expensive in Canada and don't forget the taxes. On the other hand, teachers have a great pension plan.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 2 years ago | (#41803687)

With max years experience, and a PhD, they make a little over that where I live, and I live in an average cost of living area.

We definitely have some earning that, but probably less than 1 in 100.
they start at 36k for no experience and a bachelor's.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803691)

My experience, in the U.S., is that when teachers complain about their pay, they generally give the amount they make for the school year. For arguments sake, say that's 9 months. So a teacher that claims to be making $45K a year would make $60K a year if they worked 12 months. Me, I would take the three months off, and the reduced pay, if I could at my job.

Now, in my opinion good teachers are under paid and under appreciated, The problem is that there are a lot of bad teachers out there. When I was in 9th grade, my Social Studies teacher let us watch NFL Films every Friday instead of him teaching class. The problem is that everytime a teacher complains about pay, I have the image of this guy kicking back and reading the paper every Friday.

You know what they say the three best things about teaching? June, July and August.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (4, Informative)

craigminah (1885846) | about 2 years ago | (#41803701)

Teachers in Chicago make nearly that yet their students' score poorly on standardized tests.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#41803721)

where are you that teachers make $80K? That does not jive with national salary rates.

In my school district (Santa Clara, California) elementary school teachers make an average of $78k. Many make more than $80k. If you live in California, you can use this site [sacbee.com] to see what teachers in your district are paid.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#41803769)

Okay, but cherry picking the highest standard of living places (major cities, California, New York) doesn't mean "all teachers are making too much". Garbage men in NYC get $60K/yr, IIRC.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803727)

Teaachers here make $100K in UPSTATE NY. The tech guy at the local highschool makes twice what I do for the same work. The reason: Oh think of the children. Same thing at the local library, and we are ALL in the same union.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#41803743)

Chicago

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

wiggles (30088) | about 2 years ago | (#41803767)

Chicago [cbslocal.com]

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#41803819)

where are you that teachers make $80K? That does not jive with national salary rates.

Senior teachers. Average teacher pay is no where near 80k, and starting teacher pay is less than half of that. But if you can get a job in teaching and stay in the profession for 25 or 30 years you can get up to 70 or 80 in big cities.

One of my highshool buddies is about 65k, and that's after 10 years. His cost of living makes that not really a great salary for the area, but it's not bad.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (4, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 2 years ago | (#41803399)

I was basically going to post this very thing but you beat me to it.

Unionized government employees do not simply step aside gracefully and change jobs or learn new skills. They fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo, with increasing ferocity the more obsolete they become.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (5, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 2 years ago | (#41803551)

They fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo, with increasing ferocity the more obsolete they become.

Which is amusingly ironic, considering how Slashdotters lay down and whine like helpless mewling pussies when they can't find a job, blaming offshoring, ageism, non-degreed-ism, and affirmative action.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803429)

Suddenly, those sweet schoolmarms were on every newscast, decrying the courses as a poor substitute for classroom education, something that "cheated the students," as Satan incarnate basically. Their union was all but threatening to break legs.

[citations needed] All I've seen and heard from friends who are teachers is that these videos are amazing resources for their children and students to utilize in better understanding the material. Surprise surprise the kids that don't want to learn ... DON'T GO HOME AND TURN ON KHAN ACADEMY! So guess who still has to teach the students?

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803437)

"some of whom were making north of $80k a year in this district"

        Most of whom are making south of $40k you you right wing tool.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 2 years ago | (#41803737)

[citation needed]

In the district my taxes go to, teachers start at $39,400, plus salary credits for experience, retirement contributions, 85% medical coverage, and tuition reimbursement. So maybe there are a couple first-year teachers making south of $40k. This is not a good or rich district - below 50% graduation rate and 80+% students on free and reduced lunch.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803471)

School district elected officials were told in no uncertain terms that the sweet schoolmarms were ready to bend them over and do bad things to them with a slide rule at the next election.

Considering all the sex scandals I've seen in the news, I would think the elected officials would let the software get into the school system and then go to the schoolmarms, pull down their pants, and say, "I've been a very naughty boy!"

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (5, Insightful)

ctrlshift (2616337) | about 2 years ago | (#41803511)

I'm stunned that this is the first place this conversation went. The article is about the ability of a digital device to do the job of a teacher and the first thing people can think of to say is that they're overpaid and too politically entrenched to remove. It really is election season isn't it...

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803537)

Ha ha. "Some making north of $80k".
Just like our CEO makes more than 5 times I am making.

And "some" means how many ?
Did you have access to this numbers or you just think that is the reality?

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803553)

Don't like dealing with teachers' unions, just move to Wisconsin.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803573)

Yet another good reason to make public sector unions illegal at from the federal level down. Local politicians aren't in any position to negotiate because in most local elections the union is the greatest political power in the district.

Say what you want about Scott Walker but scorched earth is the only tactic that will work against entrenched union interests.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 years ago | (#41803695)

Yet another good reason to make public sector unions illegal at from the federal level down.

Unions are simply a group of individuals meeting together and deciding to all walk out of work on the same day if they don't like the conditions. You cannot make unions illegal without violating the right to free association that all Americans have. You can only bar the state from engaging with these unions in collective bargaining, institute a "right to work" law, and/or fire anyone that tries to organize.

For what it's worth, the fact that a country with a much greater dedication to organized labor than the US, namely Finland, is currently the envy of the developed world for its educational achievement in public schools, the existence of teachers' unions per se is clearly not the problem here.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (4, Insightful)

udachny (2454394) | about 2 years ago | (#41803781)

He was clear enough: public unions, which even FDR was against.

A public union is an absurd idea in the first place, who is supposedly 'oppressing' these teachers? They are working for the government, who is this 'evil capitalist' that is oppressing them?

Also who is paying their salaries, is it the politicians that they are negotiating with? NOPE. It's the tax payer and the tax payer is the one who is getting screwed on this deal, he is the sheep that 'participates' in the decision what's for dinner, except the other two sides at the table are 2 wolves (politicians and the public unions).

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Gilmoure (18428) | about 2 years ago | (#41803817)

Since when are Americans free to associate? That's just a librul myth.

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803601)

I don't get it. If you're going to replace them with babysitters to make sure there's a warm body in the seat looking at the monitor and not throwing spit balls, why do you even care if teachers scream bloody murderer? Their jobs WILL be replaced. They are "old technology".

Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803657)

Yeah, you try to implement something that threatens teacher jobs and just WATCH what happens, sparky. I was once part of an effort to design some online courses (just a few, mind you) for a local school district and learned the hard way to watch my step when treading anywhere near teachers. Unfortunately, my superiors made the STUPID mistake of pitching the program to the district as being a potential money-saver (since fewer teachers would be needed to oversee the online courses than traditional classroom courses). The teachers mobilized like a fucking Roman Legion.

Now, for those of you dumb enough to think that teachers are sweet old schoomarms with low salaries and little power...well, you just keep thinking that. But I know that they broadsided us like the a school bus. Suddenly, those sweet schoolmarms were on every newscast, decrying the courses as a poor substitute for classroom education, something that "cheated the students," as Satan incarnate basically. Their union was all but threatening to break legs. School district elected officials were told in no uncertain terms that the sweet schoolmarms were ready to bend them over and do bad things to them with a slide rule at the next election. We learned the hard way what happens when you threaten the schoolmarms' jobs in ANY way.

Needless to say, our online course plan was SIGNIFICANTLY modified. Most notably, provisions were added to make it clear that the online courses were to be treated exactly like classroom courses, with a teacher getting assigned to each one just as if he/she were in the classroom each day teaching it as a traditional course (even if they basically had to do nothing)--complete with the same class size limitations as a traditional course. Even though this all made no sense with online courses, it's what we had to do to get them implemented. Not a single teacher job was to be lost, nor salary reduced, nor workload increased (only significantly decreased).

Teachers and their unions are masters at playing the emotion card. And they are PR masters too. We're talking teachers, some of whom were making north of $80k a year in this district (and this was in an area with a relatively low cost of living, mind you), who were able to convince everyone that they weren't getting paid enough and needed raises (4-6% annual raises, EVERY YEAR). You fuck with them at your own peril.

You know what else goes up every year, without fail, much in part due to public services?

Taxes.

Fuck with the average taxpayer's taxes too much, and it won't matter how much power you think you have.

And believe me, the attack on teachers or the current education system won't likely happen at the high-school level. Where this will take place is at the college level, where everyone is already tired of paying those fucking rates. Good luck to the professors there, for that 4-year piece of paper that everyone strives for is hardly worth the effort to get out of bed these days, let alone pay someone six figures for it.

Are Teachers Headed For Obsolescence? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803351)

No.

Re:Are Teachers Headed For Obsolescence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803403)

Exactly. What, have we got Wired writing slashdot's headlines now?

Re:Are Teachers Headed For Obsolescence? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803431)

Agreed. There will always be a need for good teachers, but maybe we could dump a bunch of the shitty ones.

Re:Are Teachers Headed For Obsolescence? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803467)

exactly....

Yes, you can read a book. Yes, you can self learn. Yes, you can do it yourself. But when it comes down to 'how do I...?' a teacher is an awesome way to learn something quickly and they can help you thru the rough spots.

Within minutes the kids were opening the boxes and figuring out how to use the Motorola Zoom tablets
Yes, that is called an 'intuitive interface'. You do not need to be 'trained' to use it as much. But how to say make a program that goes into that interface, or even the interface itself? You are going to want some help with that. When no one is around to teach you will see people pick it up and try it themselves. But not nearly as many as if there was a teacher around. I would also bet money that those same kids were 'teaching' each other and some of them became on the spot teachers. Teaching is not necessarily a room with a chalkboard/whiteboard and 30-50 seats in it. That method is just one of mass not quality.

Re:Are Teachers Headed For Obsolescence? (3, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41803625)

Teacher no... The 19th century teaching methods Yes.

The problem with a lot of the current teaching methods, have focus on a lot of humdrum skills that are being replaced by computers. There needs to be more focus on creativity, and research and less on raw fact remembering.

Two Things (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41803355)

The idea that pieces of software and one way communication videos can compete with responsive human beings and solely provide first world education is laughable.

The idea that a third world nation can spend little and utilizes said technologies is critical to their economic success and transitioning to second and first world status.

Yes, these things will successfully replace teachers where there were no teachers in the first place. Everywhere else they are important as augmenting tools on the path of education but the place where they will make the most progress for us is where they need teachers but have none.

Re:Two Things (5, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 2 years ago | (#41803611)

good teachers will be replaced the day that someone creates software which can teach a student something, have them explain it back, understand their explanation and the subtle ways in which they are wrong and correct them.

bad teachers on the other hand will be replaced the day that someone videos a teacher scribbling half legible stuff on the board while students try to copy it down.

Re:Two Things (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803703)

So you're saying that teachers nowadays have two way conversations? Try challenging creationism in science class in some states. Oh, I see...two way only if you don't question or challenge?

Stupid headline, stupid conclusion. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803359)

Slashdot's obsession with the disaster that is OLPC is laughable, as is the conclusion that it could replace teachers.

Is an OLPC better than nothing? Yes. Is it better than a proper teacher and resources? Heck no.

Re:Stupid headline, stupid conclusion. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803493)

" Is it better than a proper teacher and resources? Heck no."

I can count on my hand the number of teachers that were truly exceptional. Scratch that. There has only been in one teacher/professor that I thought was great. Luckily for me the rest were ok, but nothing special.

School is a glorified daycare. Teachers are just babysitters that are telling you what to learn. A motivated student would learn material more quickly with some guidance.

I can see it now (5, Funny)

Metabolife (961249) | about 2 years ago | (#41803365)

Siri will replace all teachers in the future.

Re:I can see it now (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803443)

Siri will replace all teachers in the future.

Siri, what is one divided by zero?

Re:I can see it now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803635)

Siri, what is one divided by zero?

Just what do you think you are doing, Dave?

Re:I can see it now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803715)

Siri will replace all teachers in the future.

As opposed to a "graduate" who basically abused Google for the better part of four years in order to pass their classes? I fail to see a real downside here.

Sad, but so true, you won't even dare call me a liar.

Kahn? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803373)

I don't know this Kahn Academy. Is this an "accidental" spelling mistake?

No they are not. (5, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | about 2 years ago | (#41803379)

A good teacher is more than a textbook-reader. It's someone who sees in a kid, where it has strong points, where there are weak points. What the kid really gives shiny eyes in terms of interests and hobbies. He know if the kid has parents who are in a divorce and will anticipate on it. He will ask a normally happy kid that all of sudden is all down, what's wrong. So no, you can not replace a good teacher. A good teacher is a source of inspiration and a safe haven.

Re:No they are not. (2, Insightful)

hilltaker7 (2718495) | about 2 years ago | (#41803671)

Many modern teachers aren't even decent textbook-readers. I have five kids. The only reason they left high school with reasonable math and science skills is that they had a geek for a father who refused to allow their futures to slip away because their teachers were more concerned with politics then their jobs. (Note: I said nothing about my grammar skills.) :) Those that can, do. Those that can't join unions so that no one will know they can't.

The fun they had! (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41803385)

Asimov wrote a short fictional story about this in 1951 [wikipedia.org] . It' about a kid who finds an old-fashioned paper book in the attic. In the story, there are no classrooms, kids all learn from computer terminals.

Re:The fun they had! (4, Insightful)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 2 years ago | (#41803489)

Or how about Asimov's "The Feeling of Power," where people have been using computers so long they forgot that math existed, and had to reinvent it.

Re:The fun they had! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803577)

I'm glad you brought that up. I had exactly the same thought.

DESIGNED to be easy to use without instructions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803387)

So the article cites the example of launching an app (Playing alphabet songs) and navigating some menus (blocked camera functionality)? Yes, if that was what teachers gave to students, then the intuitiveness of tech has made them obsolete.

The same logic at my school. If students can navigate tech, then they are "ready for the future".

Yes they are, but not from this (2)

rjejr (921275) | about 2 years ago | (#41803409)

Home-schooling, especially in the mid-western states, is a greater threat to teachers than OLPC.

Re:Yes they are, but not from this (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 years ago | (#41803459)

Homeschooling is no more a threat to teachers in the US than bicycling to work is a threat to car manufacturers and gas stations, or vegetarian restaurants are a threat to large supermarket meat departments. An alternative lifestyle may grow large enough to be visible in an area without seriously challenging the status quo.

Teachers are more than just teaching a curriculum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803413)

They help shape the character of kids, which is more pertinent these days as most parents are spoiling their brats silly.

Good luck attempting this with gadgets.

Disclaimer: I am not a teacher, nor am I involved in the education industry.

are teachers going the way of the Dodo? (4, Informative)

l3v1 (787564) | about 2 years ago | (#41803427)

are teachers going the way of the Dodo?

1. See Betteridge's law of headlines.

2. No. But the current methodologies of teaching are. Unfortunately, teaching methods do not adapt fast enough, and this in turn causes a lot of trouble, e.g. kids not having enough and up-to-date knowledge and information about certain fields so as they can properly choose their further study fields, which can even result in badly planned and chosen careers (yes, this is a bit on the extreme side, but true nonetheless).

Re:are teachers going the way of the Dodo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803469)

I think in this case, it is safe to say the obvious pro-tech slant outweighs Betteridge's law.

The conclusion to be extracted from readers is 'Yes', or 'Not yet, but we're getting there'.

If they had a teachers union... nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803435)

Don't mess with teachers unions. If their jobs are threatened, then expect some serious concequences, such as taking away the OLPC hardware.

Just Imagine (4, Funny)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#41803439)

Within minutes the kids were opening the boxes and figuring out how to use the Motorola Zoom tablets, within days they were playing alphabet songs and withing a few months how to hack the user interface to enable blocked camera functionality.
Just imagine what they could do if they had electricity.

Re:Just Imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803565)

More jobs taken away from us Americans by cheap, smart labor in Ethiopia...

Re:Just Imagine (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | about 2 years ago | (#41803617)

Just imagine what they could do if they had electricity.

It sounds as though these kids would do a better job of replacing most outsourcing teams..

Very Simple: No (5, Insightful)

Thyamine (531612) | about 2 years ago | (#41803441)

Anyone who has had to learn outside of a classroom understands that sometimes it's necessary: training manuals, certifications, just learning for personal enjoyment. Sometimes time and money are a factor. However, if you've ever struggled with a concept, you understand how much simpler it is when another person is involved imparting their knowledge in a personalized way to help you learn.

They hacked them to enable the camera.... (-1, Redundant)

apcullen (2504324) | about 2 years ago | (#41803491)

As soon as they hack them to enable playing call of duty all learning will stop.;

Short answer: No. (4, Interesting)

Chalnoth (1334923) | about 2 years ago | (#41803497)

Having spent a lot of time in traditional education, and a lot of time teaching myself new things on the Internet, no, just throwing computers at kids is not going replace classroom education. The main difference between the two is depth and breadth. With a classroom education, you are confronted with topics that you are unlikely to have ever considered on your own, sometimes out of lack of interest, sometimes because the Internet tends to focus on certain aspects of various topics while ignoring others. You just can't get anything approaching a comprehensive education in any field just by reading things online.

Perhaps even more importantly, a good fraction of education lies in not just learning facts, but in doing: in learning how to research a topic so as to produce a compelling argument, in learning how to solve problems, in learning how to perform laboratory experiments. These experiences are irreplaceable.

But perhaps most crucially: most people just aren't self-motivated enough to educate themselves. And even for those that are, it isn't easy to do it yourself.

Re:Short answer: No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803809)

Having spent a lot of time in traditional education, and a lot of time teaching myself new things on the Internet, no, just throwing computers at kids is not going replace classroom education. The main difference between the two is depth and breadth. With a classroom education, you are confronted with topics that you are unlikely to have ever considered on your own, sometimes out of lack of interest, sometimes because the Internet tends to focus on certain aspects of various topics while ignoring others. You just can't get anything approaching a comprehensive education in any field just by reading things online...

Yes, you're right. I'm certain that the kids reading about modems in their circa 1998 textbook for 6th grade computer science is not only a riveting read, but also likely very valuable in today's dial-up world, right?

Let's also not forget such wonderful programs as No Child Left Behind, which has pretty much guaranteed that unless the material is on that particular test, it will not be taught or even discussed, hence resulting in a very nice and restrictive tunnel to teach within for most of the school year. Boy, that vacuum of teaching certainly creates a warm and welcome environment for open thought.

Low classroom budgets and idiots in charge with creative teaching plans are two things that create the lack of depth and breadth. I see technology as a way to stay a hell of a lot more relevant and interesting than the current model.

Samzenpus at a new low (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 2 years ago | (#41803509)

Hey Samzenpus, when you hit rock bottom, STOP DIGGING!

Sure, I can see it now. 2000 kids in high-school, no teachers.

After the break, can monkeys be employed as caretakers for banana plantations. Next week an in-depth look at the results of giving the lunatics the keys to the asylum, test case: slashdot.

For those who are terminally stupid/libertarians, most people need oversight at least part of the time. Give kids a tablet and they will indeed use it, just as easily as my generation used a dictionary. To look up dirty words and hitting other kids with.

Yes some kids will indulge in self-study without encouragement, these kids need teachers most of all, to stop the other kids from beating them up.

A tablet is not anymore a teacher then a TV is a baby sitter.

It's not the simple stuff kids need help with (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803525)

A computer might be able to teach anyone how to program, math, English, etc. if they have the desire to learn, but it's the teachers job to give them that desire, and to assist, control and monitor the children.
If a child has a problem, then a teacher can easily help, especially if the child needs another way to look at the issue.
It's the teachers job to control the classroom and to make sure they don't start to beat up each other; another hard job at 2pm on a Friday.
It is the teachers job to monitor the children and to know if something is wrong with one of them. A teacher can be the only person a 12 yr old can go to and ask for help.
A lot of teachers are also more educated then most other professionals, with Masters degrees at least, and several years of experience before they are handed a classroom of their own.
And the most important thing: They have to deal with elected officials telling them how to teach, when the officials only qualification is "my kid goes to school".
Ya, we need to hand a kid a computer and tell them to teach themselves. It will be porn and WoW only within a couple of weeks.

no, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803527)

teachers are going to end up like adjunct professors, at least if the Republicans get their way.

Some kids don't need guidance (4, Insightful)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#41803539)

But others do. A kid who has someone who can understand his thought processes and teach accordingly will come out better than if left alone (talking about the average kid here, not Mr G&T who'll be a physicist no matter what). So, I guess good teachers will always be needed, bad teachers have always been obsolete.

Re:Some kids don't need guidance (1)

Slippery_Hank (2035136) | about 2 years ago | (#41803799)

bad teachers won't be obsolete until there is an abundance of good teachers.

teachers are guides (1)

RichMan (8097) | about 2 years ago | (#41803581)

With video we can have great lecturers present the topics and even have streams where things are presented different ways so that individuals can select the stream that present things the way the learn. These can be covered at whatever rates the indiduals like.

Teachers then can provide more individual help with problem solving.

Not the way most people learn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803597)

Unfortunately, while there is a subset of people who legitimately learn well simply from reading or viewing something, this is not the way the vast majority of people learn. I, and my entire family, are involved in the education sector at every level from K-graduate school. There simply is no substitute for hand-on interaction for most people. You can sit a perfectly brilliant student down with a history book or history website, and he/she is likely to retain almost nothing of what they have just read or viewed. Sit this same student down in a properly-managed classroom environment with a good teacher and discussion-style learning, and suddenly that student is learning and enjoying it. It isn't something that we can just "change", this is hard-wired human nature. If you fall outside the norm then that's great for you, but don't try to insist that the majority of people begin learning that same way.

Online learning is not good enough for the masses (5, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | about 2 years ago | (#41803607)

I know Slashdot loves to pull up these kinds of articles every time they're available. TED is susceptible similar lectures as well, so we who have actually worked in education have to keep our eyes open before the "computers will solve all our complex problems" crowd runs away with an invaluable source of social evolution.

Before the average Slashdotter writes off brick-and-mortar schools in favor of online learning with justifications like, "I was always bored in class", "I was smarter than my teacher", and "Just be open to change!" consider this: Is your average Slashdotter ANYTHING like your average American student?

The answer is that they simply are not. Slashdotters likely grew up in smaller than average social groups with access to technology. We adapt to new technology with little issue. We understand the underlying concepts of nested menus and function taxonomy. We are nerds and geeks who thrive on learning.

The rest of America's children do not thrive on learning and providing online education will not change that.

Having worked in middle schools, high schools, with community college transfer students, and then the resulting university undergrads, I have to say: If the general population doesn't HAVE to learn something or if there isn't something someone sufficiently passionate to help them learn something new regardless, they won't bother. Humanity is curious about the universe in that we consistently have some extremely smart people come to global acclaim for their works, but most people just want to live easy, have sex, and do so as long as possible.

It's the role of the educator to affect everyone, regardless of station or passion, and get them the minimum (plus) standard of knowledge and analytical capability so that they can learn more things and more complex concepts at the next level. This is something a computer with programed or limited responses cannot do.

Yes, OLPC can get kids excited about new things. Those children will NOT be starting hospitals in their villages with simple access to online education. They will not become cultural philosophers through online education. They will not begin building Motorola Zoom tablets with they learned via online learning. The concepts required to do any of those complex actions cannot be taught in a single plug-and-play manner. It requires a talented individual and as social an environment as possible to adjust the content to the user, to adjust the lesson plan to the person that day.

The only way teachers will ever go obsolete is if we are ignorant to assume that computers will ever substitute for the adaptive human mind.

I'm a teacher . . . (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803619)

The thought that children will be able to learn anything by watching a video is just laughable...
I teach middle school math, and the level of apathy and carelessness in work is very high. There is no substitute for students being in a classroom, actually doing work.
However, if all you want to do is compare a LECTURE to a VIDEO, then sure, "teachers" can be replaced. However, "Teacher" in that context really is just "Lecturer".

There's a lot more to teaching than being on a stage and talking at people. Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant, selling something, or both.

Printing Press (2)

dcollins (135727) | about 2 years ago | (#41803631)

Yes, as soon as the printing press was invented, teachers became fundamentally unnecessary and put on the road to extinction, decreasing in number every year.

[/sarcasm]

The way of the computer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803633)

Teachers will go the way of the computer. They'll stick around in essentially the same role as ever, but will do much less of some things they used to do a lot of, like writing notes on the board or reading punch cards, and more of things of which they currently do too little, like coaching individual students or simulating protein folding. This will mostly be great, and education will change, just not quite as much as some people expect.

withing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803647)

Please correct this. "withing" -> "with in"

Depends on who you ask... (0)

bogaboga (793279) | about 2 years ago | (#41803649)

With the Kahn Academy and others at the high school level and massive open online courses at the college level, are teachers going the way of the Dodo?"

And if you asked the Unions, they would say, "Hell No!"...

They would add...

"You always need teachers to provide "that human touch."

How to install windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803663)

How to install windows http://windows-explorer.blogspot.com/

Nov 6th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803675)

If the Republicans take control of both the Senate and the Presidency (they already have the House) then I guess Teachers will be made redundant.

After all they only want Preachers, not teachers. If its not in the Bible its not real..

so soon (1)

drjzzz (150299) | about 2 years ago | (#41803677)

'withing a few months' speaking a Saxon dialect. Maybe they would discover the spellchecker 'withing' a few years.

Re:so soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803825)

Teachers in this district can't figure out that the spell checker isn't always right. I keep getting my son's flyers and letters from school with misuses of it's vs its, they're vs their, etc. This from English teachers no less.

YES (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803713)

And the rest of the humans also, hee hee. Deep Blue.

Headline could be improved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803731)

The "teachers of today" are headed for obsolescence. Nothing really replaces the personal attention of a human being. Just that today, the focus of teaching is where a person stands in front of the class and generally dictates knowledge and fact. What teachers need to do, is inspire and teach "learning." The love of learning and the tools that a person needs to equip themselves with to learn throughout the journey of life.

Teachers will be required for 'boring' subjects (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803735)

If you have a shiny gadget, people will happily learn how to use it themselves, as illustrated here. However there are many things that we learn from teachers that we always think of as boring, but which are actually useful. I used to hate history at school, but that may have more to do with the way it was taught as I now find it a fascinating subject, and one which actually is very useful in certain circumstances. Also it's quite hard to learn interpersonal skills if you're only learning via a gadget, whereas a structured, formal learning environment can be great for this. In this day and age where we can have instant access to information, the discipline of being part of a class and having to put your hand up if you want to speak, and then wait your turn, are very useful life skills. I'm not saying these are the most important aspects of a school environment but they are certainly an important part of learning.

Then there are the science experiments that, due to health and safety legislation, must be performed by a 'responsible adult'. I have my views on whether the legislation has the right balance here, but if we are constrained but such regulations then we will always need a teacher for this to happen.

Kiddies hacking their way thru a tablet :-) (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 2 years ago | (#41803757)

If the story conforms to reality, this is great news, not only by its entertainment value. It throws an optimistic eye upon what human beings can do, are willing to learn and can adapt to. No, teachers are not going to be pushed into obsolescence for a long time yet, the interesting part of this story, to me, is with these Ethiopian kiddos. Who would not, anyway and prolly, have been reached by any teacher for quite some time.

Self-directed, AI-mentored Education (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803765)

This reminds me a little of "The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" by Neal Stephenson.

Teachers Going the Way of Typewriters (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803783)

There are a few circumstances where a class room is vital. But we are about to see all hell breaking lose in education. One eighth grade American history teacher could supply the entire nation. The same is true for almost every class. So the working teacher population will shrink by 90% or more. It is already happening. Some public schools have a security guard and computers instead of teachers. Properly set up one guard cabn watch several classrooms.
                        That means that the physical plant is also an unneeded luxury. Class warfare may follow. Close the schools and register the child for onlne classes at home that are graded. That means that traditional families with one adult at home can educate their kids for a few pennies worth of electricity a month. It also strongly suggests that single parents and homes with tight incomes in which both partners work will no longer have a free baby sitter. The savings to the public would be many billions and the disaster for the poor and single parent families would be awful. Perhaps having a kid from the neighborhood pay to use your home as he has no at home parent would become common. It also means that a home without electricity would have "truants" and social workers descending upon the home. Obviously te text book industry will be taking a huge beating as well. The school bus drivers, janitors, maintenance workers, teachers and administrators will become superfilous.

Soon to be getting emails like this... (1)

Sez Zero (586611) | about 2 years ago | (#41803789)

I am Becky Ofori, an Ethiopian. Happily I received this laptop to tell you about my special situation. I am contacting you in respect of a family treasure of Gold deposited in my name by my late father who was a gold and diamond merchant. As a well known business man, and a strong politician...
...
On the contrary, if you are a potential buyer, then a fresh agreement would be reached in respect of this transaction. I am looking forward to hear from you in respect as soon as you receive this fax.

USA rank 32nd math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803791)

yup i figure when you get to 50 WOOT you can fire them all as they are idiots

No, kids and adults need focus and challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41803803)

Although it is possible to learn a great deal from a computer. Its hard to pick the focus the topic without help. Bringing what
is learned together it is hard. Its also difficult to come up with technique without a teacher. A video can provide so much
and without challenging or the ability to ask questions it is not an easy medium. You still need a teacher or someone
like them them to create the material in the first place. A computer can't tell you oh your doing it wrong! on certain subjects,
and even if you did come up with the right answer, did you use a method that actually works all the time?
K-12 education really needs teachers for kids to have a good base knowledge. College level independent learning is possible on
some topics, but without interaction might not get the same depth of knowledge. Math proofs are fussy things.

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