In a recent conversation on LinkedIn, a commenter wrote:
Teachers do not fear being ‘replaced’ by computers. That is a 1980 ‘s idea that has never gone away.
I’d like to look at that fear. Is that really just an old wives tale?
To a certain extent I believe that there are teachers who do fear being replaced by computers. But it is so much more than just one thing. They don’t necessarily think that a computer will be sitting at their desk in the front of their classrooms but there is a certain trepidation about what technology does do that will replace what they have been doing for so long.
We say let the computers compute and leave exploring/creating/collaborating/etc.. in the hands of the learners and teachers.
What if what you have been teaching for so long has been, basically, computing. In a very real sense in mathematics but also in other subjects. When you teach a student how to do something by giving them every single step of it along the way, this is a form of computation. Introduction + body + conclusion = essay.
When we tell teachers to let technology take care of certain elements of what they do…well…what happens if much of what they do are those elements?
So yes, there is a fear that what they do and in turn they, can and will be replaced by technology. We can not dismiss that.
Dismissing emotion is dangerous. It makes it go underground and comes out in a variety of other ways, usually in passive aggressive ways –> scoffing at all things technology, refusing to reply to email messages, that kind of thing.
So let’s look at this fear and deal with it. We can deal with it by acknowledging it and addressing the fear in a way that doesn’t dismiss it but gently leads teachers to the courage that is necessary to try something different.
(Very important point coming up)
Because teachers will not be replaced, their roles are becoming different. Very different. Struggling through that change on our own is hard. It’s still hard with guidance but less so, I’d say.
Please, don’t dismiss fear.