Teaching Machines

I have noticed that the many young teachers I meet are very procedural in their approach to teaching.  Systems and colleges are reducing teaching to procedures that “anyone can consistently follow to be successful.”  Lessons are very scripted, and when classes stray from the script due to teacher error, or **gasp** a question from a student that wasn’t on the script, they can’t get back on track to continue following their scripts that tell them what to do next.

I was cleaning out the basement today and finally got to all of our boxes that we left college with and never opened again after graduation. They have stayed in the corner of every basement of every house we have ever lived in…until today. In one of the boxes was a book Methods and Strategies for Teaching in Secondary and Middle Schools. Turning to the chapter on “Using Media” I found paragraphs on how to use all the latest technologies…16mm Projector, Film Strip Projector, Overhead Projector (more than one paragraph), opaque projector, slide projector, record player, television, bulletin board, chalkboard, and a few sentences on the VCR (how the heck would a teacher use that?).

The next chapter, a short one of 12 pages, is entitled “Using Microcomputers in Education.” There are some quick paragraphs on the history of the computer, using it to assist instruction, educational software, and teachers’ fear of computers. Then there is one called “Some Misconceptions.”
will teachers be replaced by computers
Check this out:

The most obvious and common misconception since the development of the “early teaching machines” of the 1940’s is that the machine will replace the person. So it has been in education–many still fear that computers will replace teachers. But this can never happen. Although the popular microcomputers can dazzle the mind with their speed and ability to store large quantities of information that can be recalled and assembled in millionths of a second, the microcomputer, like all other computers, has no imagination. It is not creative. It does not have the ability to appreciate or love. Therefore, it cannot attend to the many human needs that all students have.

The paragraph does give a very simple definition of what a teacher is if you read it a bit differently.  A great teacher is a person with an imagination, creativity, and the ability to appreciate and love their students.   Is it that simple? Is imagination, creativity, appreciation and love of students what separates great teachers, from the others who are just teaching machines?

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