User:Taratj/my sandbox/playing with jos template/The Changing Role of the Teacher

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At Educamp Aucklandsome like-minded educators and I discussed how tragic it would have been if I had planned a 'unit' that spanned an entire term where children had to sit through me telling them what they were all able to access and recall in a mere 20 minutes. Several similar anecdotes were shared in this forum.

We discussed how this is a fine demonstration of how our role as teachers MUST change. In this context, my role is to find connections and more authentic learning about Argentina. My mission is to connect my kids with a school from Argentina using video conferencing and movie making.

I will not be wasting my student's time by 'teaching' them banal content knowledge and 'facts' about Argentina. This is quite simply because (as the late Arthur C Clarke said to Sugata Mitra):

If a teacher can be replaced by a machine, they should be...

In a business week online briefing Mitra is careful to point out that his findings do not show that teachers can be replaced by machines. However, our role is dramatically changing:

If computer literacy is defined as turning a computer on and off and doing the basic functions, then this method allows that kind of computer literacy to be achieved with no formal instruction. Therefore any formal instruction for that kind of education is a waste of time and money. You can use that time and money to have a teacher teach something else that children cannot learn on their own.

Later in the interview he goes on to say:

Remember the stories one used to hear about people finding lost tribes and introducing them to Coca-Cola? I'm really seriously scared about what would happen if suddenly the whole wide world had access to these kids. I don't know who would talk to them for what purpose.

When we bring these two points together it is chilling stuff with implications for all of our learners. As educators we need to stop wasting our children's precious time and money with formalised "computer science" teaching. Such as:

  • touch typing
  • hardware identification
  • how to insert a picture
Making the most of our cracked computers 2011 and learning about eWaste 2008

The learners can and will learn this by osmosis. What we can do with this extra money and time is change the role of computer literacy to encompass deep learning issues, some examples include:

  • How do we behave responsibly both online and offline? (Teach it! Talk about the hard issues! Make them explicit! Don't BLOCK it with gated environments!)
  • What should I do if I am in a dangerous online situation?
  • Where do the computers I am using come from?
  • What happens to my computer when it is broken?
  • Digital Citizenship and creative commons literacy see creative commons for kids vid