Why robots make the best students
A riff on Kathy Sierra's Why Robots Are the Best Employees*
- They don't challenge the teacher's authority or subject expertise.
- They don't ask questions that may not have a right or wrong answer.
- They all learn in same way, at the same pace.
- They stay in their seats with eyes straight ahead.
- They don't go on vacations with their families during school time or skip school. Or come in late.
- They don't need to learn to work in cooperative groups. Or need social skills. Or need conflict resolution abilities.
- They don't need sex ed, multicultural ed, or P.E. The arts and literature are wasted on them. No field trips or fire drills. No need for hot lunch.
- They never make the principal or teacher look bad (e.g. stupid, incompetent, clueless, etc.).
- They follow the school dress code and never swear.
- They have no strongly-held opinions or passions for which to fight.
- They always pass the state tests and always read above grade level.
- They are always willing to do the homework no matter how meaningless.
- They don't complain when you lecture or give worksheets. Endlessly.
- They can all use the same textbook and they are all always on the same chapter,
- They make a bell curve - always.
- They don't care what their classroom/library is like. Comfort and ambiance are not important.
- They don't expect to have the equipment they need.
- They don't need social services. Parent robots always come to conferences.
- They make good robot employees.
I agree that many teachers may be fearful - but it's not the technology that's frightening if you dig just a little deeper. It's what the technology gives kids access to and how it may change students and the classroom when information become ubiquitous. Were I a teacher, here is what I would be afraid of:
- Kids who have more factual knowledge than I do (because of technology), thus supplanting me as the classroom sage.
- Kids who insist on engaging learning experiences (since that is what they get using technology outside of class).
- Kids who embrace ambiguity and creativity and personal passions (because they can find like-minded folks and information about those passions using technology).
- Kids whose most important skills aren't measurable (practiced using technology) and will surpass me in power and income and prestige in only a few years after graduation.
For 12 years! I've separated those educators who shun ambiguity from those who embrace it. Technology exacerbates the gap. It's ambiguity we and the test makers don't much like. And more than a few politicians.
The challenges classroom teachers face today are unlike any the profession has previously tried to meet. Imagine being stuck in a plant designed to produce Model A Fords, but being expected to turn out custom designed high-performance aircraft with a 0% rejection rate.
I'd be fearful of a hell of a lot more than technology.
Why Robots Are the Best Employees - Kathy Sierrra, Oct 2006
1) They don't challenge the status quo
2) They don't ask those uncomfortable questions
3) They're 100% obedient
4) They don't need "personal" days.
5)... because they don't have a personal life
6) They never make the boss look bad (e.g. stupid, incompetent, clueless, etc.)
7) They dress and talk the way you want them to
8) They have no strongly-held opinions
9) They have no passion, so they have nothing to "fight" for
10) They are always willing to do whatever it takes (insane hours, etc.)
11) They are the ultimate team players
12) They don't complain when you micromanage (tip: micromanaging is in fact one of the best ways to create a robot)
13) They don't care what their workspace is like, and don't complain if they don't have the equipment they need
14) They'll never threaten your job
15) They make perfect scapegoats
16) They get on well with zombies