Thursday, July 29, 2010

Robot - Teacher?

Recently a newspaper article titled "Students, meet your new teacher, Mr. Robot" caught my eye. It said that around the world computer scientists are developing robots that can teach simple skills like household tasks, vocabulary or elementary knowledge. South Korea is said to be hiring hundreds of robots as teacher aides and classroom playmates. In fact, work is going on to create robots who will learn as they teach and therefore will become highly informed instructors.

Whew! Technology  seems to be moving at a real rapid pace, don't you think? Imagine a robot taking over the role of a teacher completely!! One thing for sure - knowledge wise I guess the robots will be far superior and maybe children will get more accurate information and information that would be up to date. This until any malfunctioning happens to the system! Imagine a school campus where one would see children and the robots walking around. Parent-robot meetings will be held where the robot I guess will give an accurate picture of  our child. This might be a scene quite out of a sci-fi movie. If the robots are correcting the exam papers too then probably it would be more accurate and  the percentage of error might be very negligible. Hence there will be no need for all those thousands of students to go in for re-evaluation. There will also be no last minute strikes that the teachers usually resort to just before the evaluation of exam papers. Fifth September will be celebrated as " Happy Robot Teacher's Day". Roses and other flowers will be given to the robots as token of appreciation!!

However the most important thing missing out of this entire picture will be the emotional factor and the human touch. The rustling of the the teacher's Saree, the sound of her bangle, the looks and words of encouragement from one of our favorite teachers (specially during the foundation years), the pranks that one could play on a teacher, the punishments that one would get for not paying attention! All these and more will be entirely missing. Even after more than two decades of completing our studies we still have so many fond memories of our favorite teachers don't we? How we still cherish those moments in our lives. Don't we all  remember that one teacher who changed the course of our entire life? 

So I wonder whether it is a good idea to have robots as teachers? Would they make for ideal teachers? As it is life is becoming far too mechanical so would this make the life of our children even more mechanical and wooden faced with no display of emotions? Or would it lead to more productive learning? I am confused. What do you as parents feel about this? Do let me know.

4 comments:

vinodini said...

Robot teachers are useful teaching aides to improve knowledge & skills of children, but what happens with malfunctioning. More over, they lack human touch which is important for maintaining good relationship between teacher & student. As it is, life is becoming too mechanical, this would make it even more mechanical. But I guess, we have to accept new development & gaurd against its downside.

Ravishankar said...

well in my opinion, they should use robots as a tool to improve knowledge but not completely replace the humans.. because as children we tend to take in many non verbal signals from our teachers... and as u pointed out, we will be humanless human sitting out there just with a body of knowledge and no emotions...

Shobhana Shenoy said...

Thanks Vinodini,
Yes one can never stop progress from happening. At the same time as you said one should also be aware of the repercussion of it.

Shobhana Shenoy said...

Thanks for your comment Ravishankar. Well who can forget the number of times that we have playacted our favourite teacher as kids. And I am sure many of us had that one special teacher as our role model.