Why Do We Need Teachers?

A few years ago, I read this article. 

If you don’t have a lot of time, skip down to the section that begins “Dani Indovino” and read from there.

And I come across articles like this quite often–articles predicting sweeping changes in education, some of which make sense, some of which have me shaking my head.

And then there’s this grim scenario, outlined by The Atlantic’s Michael Godsey, that nearly put me in tears thanks to his myriad sources basically claiming that teachers will soon be obsolete.

But what each of these articles omits in the land mine of education reform is best read here. 

Education reformers often ignore and discount the heart of teaching–the emotion and passion of it. What Chase Mielke writes in the previous link is left out of every article that antagonistically asks, “Why do we still need teachers?” And sure, if you see school as a content delivery system, then Godsey’s imagined future is probably spot-on. But school isn’t a content delivery system.

When I taught AP Lang and Comp, I preached the gospel of collateral learning: that it sure was fantastic I was teaching them how to analyze argument, but what I really wanted them to learn was how to work hard. How to overcome adversity. How to be kind. How to be respectful. Can a superteacher’s recorded lectures, monitored by a classroom facilitator do that?

I think not.

Why do we still need teachers? Because for so many–too many–kids, a teacher is the one adult they trust. The one adult they can confide in. The one adult they know has their backs and will fight for and with them.

Why do we still need teachers? Because a recorded lecturer cannot hear the kid in the back ask a question, or correct a misperception.

Why do we still need teachers? Because a human connection during the learning process adds an immeasurable value to both student and teacher.

If we replace teachers with cold software and pre-recorded lectures, it is not hyperbole to suggest that a dystopian future awaits us. Every dystopian novel I’ve read has alluded to a complete removal of human connection from the classroom, if not a complete removal of  traditional education.

Why do we still need teachers?

Why do you even need to ask?

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