kitchen table math, the sequel: Neil Postman's 1990 prediction

Monday, January 20, 2014

Neil Postman's 1990 prediction

School teachers, for example, will, in the long run, probably be made obsolete by television, as blacksmiths were made obsolete by the automobile, as balladeers were made obsolete by the printing press.

Informing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman1990 | speech excerpted by Memoria Press
The technologies that were going to make teachers obsolete thus far:
  • movies
  • film strips
  • TV
  • CDs
  • desktops/laptops/iPads 
  • internet
  • educational software
The technology that's going to make teachers obsolete will have to be much more radical than any of these things, I think.

Some kind of knowledge implant, a la The Matrix….


SteveH said...

Teachers are doing it to themselves on purpose. They are working very hard to become facilitators. They will reduce their influence to the point where many kinds of technologies will do a better job. Students will be able to accelerate. They will be able to get better instruction (teaching) online. Teachers will suddenly realize that they are not facilitators, but monitors. They will realize that they have reduced the skills required for their position to the point where they can be easily replaced. It's not that technology is getting better at teaching. It's that teachers have stopped teaching.

momod4 said...

Yes. I've noticed that the level of respect for teachers has declined in tandem with the replacement of the "sage on the stage" by the "guide on the side." Teachers are no longer seen as having important knowledge to transmit, students are supposed to be albe to discover their own knowledge and bright students are seen as effective peer tutors (although I think PT breeds more resentment than knowledge). In addition, I've never yet heard a satisfactory explanation of why 10 minutes of the teacher's time, in a heterogeneous class, is as good as 50-60 minutes of the teacher's time in a homogeneous one. If teachers are important,as the ed establishment insists, the latter should be much more effective.

Also, some of the problems technology is supposed to solve have been created by the ed establishment; like the requirement of heterogeneous classes with full inclusion. In schools too small to form leveled classes, I think technology has the potential to be helpful (if mastery is really required for advancement and acceleration is allowed), but larger schools could easily provide leveled classes.