Technology Does Not Takes Sick Days: Fears Teachers Could be Replaced by Robots
There are increasing fears that teachers could be replaced by technology in the classroom reducing highly-skilled educators to glorified child-minders.
There is no doubt that schools do function on some level as a childcare service. However, there are growing concerns that teachers could be replaced or de-professionalised according to Neil Selwyn’s book Should Robots Replace Teachers? In his book, Professor Selwyn discusses how artificial intelligence could be used to mark the roll in the morning, provide specific classroom content and collate data on student progress. The idea that technology does not take sick days is one that is being heavily promoted by technology companies seeking to broaden their reach into diverse markets such as education.
However, the human element of teaching cannot be disputed and plays an important role in the formation of students on a personal and social level. Having regular, human social interactions is perhaps more important today considering the amount of time the current generation of children are spending looking at screens. This is particularly true for creative processes when human subjectivity cannot be replaced or mimicked by a machine. Indeed, the need to upskill our students for an ever-changing and fluid workforce of the future requires adaptability and flexibility in curriculum design and delivery, something that can only be done by a highly-skill professional and not a robot.
Technology obviously plays an important role in our lives, how many of us can remember not having a mobile phone? Having said that, technology is a tool with a range of applications that can enhance and assist our everyday lives. Our society is becoming increasingly automated in an effort to create a little bit more time in our time-poor lifestyles. We need to be in charge of the technology and not the other way round. We are in danger of commercialising our classrooms and making schools a market for the next “tech boom.”
Human relationships are at the core of our society and we need to recognise the inherent value that teachers provide to their students and schools on a personal level. There would be no resistance to the idea that technology should never replace parenting and education needs to be protected by the same moral standpoint. Artificial intelligence can never replace real-life human intelligence. We must rise up against the machines and stop Skynet from taking over our classrooms and reducing our teachers to simply pressing the ON button.
Jonathan Hall (Head of Mulrooney House)