Should teachers be replaced by computers?

I found this on a great blog (Cloud Hackz) and had to respond and then I decided to post it on my blog.  A quote from Arthur C. Clark that Sugata Mitra mentioned in the video that got me to thinking, “A teacher that can be replaced in the classroom by a computer should be.”  Replacing people by computers and mentors is not the way to go.  Merging those ideals with a trained educator is the way to go.  The blogger was exactly right in his thoughts that if children are, ” Given access to the internet, broken into groups, and supplied with mentors, could children make better decisions about what is important to learn and what is best left for Google and Wolfram|Alpha|Alpha?”  If and only if, the child is motivated and mature enough to make those decisions and come back to discuss their findings with others including the facilitator.  Too many people believe that learning by computers are interactive-maybe, sometimes.  But, if you hole yourself off and do nothing with the information presented before you, could the computer become just another worksheet-like activity?  In the video Mitra presented students with a series of questions-one being, “Who was Pythagoras?”  In about twenty minutes they stumbled upon the formula.   a^2 + b^2 = c^2\!\,   Wonderful, huh?  I think so, too, but and there almost always is a but, there is much for that child to get to in mathematics to truly understand the Pythagorean theorem. Exposure is great, but learning is guided. Does the child understand that a square is equal on all sides?  Does the child understand square numbers?  Hypotenuse?  Has that child even learned yet how to find the area of a square or triangle? What about the potential holes in students’ learning and the lack of connectedness that educators offer between concepts that computers do not, a connectedness between interacting with peers as well during learning?  How many of our kids already have put aside that Nintendo DS that they just got for Christmas, or that iPod Nano they got for their birthday. How many have embarked on their own educational journeys on their home computers with iTunes U?  I do believe there are children that are gifted and are hindered by the traditional model of school, but we are not talking about large masses of highly self-motivated gifted children, but even those children need a highly qualified teacher.  Don’t think along the lines of replacing great resources such as teachers.  For some child that teacher could be the one that motivates s/he to be the next Bill Gates or  Charles Schulz.


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