Yo, here's your topic for next week's blog:
Watch it (You may also want to watch the playlist he mentions at the end of the video but you don't have to). Comment on it. Talk about the things you agree with and the things you disagree with. You may point out things he neglected to consider or the benefits of his proposal. Then maybe talk about how you see education in the future progressing. What kind of technologies will be used more often and is it good, bad, or both. (and remember I like cgpgrey, so if you completely disagree with everything he says please don't just completely bash him - not that you'll necessarily disagree with everything, idk) If you want you can also look through the playlist he mentions and pick out any of the videos that catch your attention and discuss those more specific topics.
Just go wild talking about education, the future of education, and even youtube's involvement in education if you want to.
So… sorry Jill, but I found this video mildly insulting to my chosen career. From my perspective, it is both underestimating teachers and overestimating technology. So most of this blog is going to be spent with me arguing against pretty much everything cgpgrey asserts. Not that I dislike him in general. Most of his videos I've seen were cool and interesting. But, like I said, his opinions go against pretty much everything I believe as a pre-service teacher.
First of all, I feel like he was intentionally trying to pick a fight when he asserted that a teacher is only teaching at the right pace for maybe one of the 20-30 students in his or her classroom during a lecture. If he wants to be really precise about it, a teacher is never going to cover things in a way that will match exactly what any single student does and does not know at the exact pace needed to absorb all that information. There is just absolutely no way to do that without being able to read minds or something. But that doesn’t mean teachers just ramble on at whatever pace and whichever order they choose, completely ignoring student needs. Teachers have access to curricula that tell what the students have already learned in previous years and classes, and they often give students pre-assessments, either in the form of formal written tests or informal questioning to see what students know. From this information, teachers know what they can just review quickly and what they need to spend more time on. Sure, these results are a generalization of the entire class, but that does not mean that only one student in 30 is benefiting from the lesson. Students who are ahead of the class in general can certainly benefit from reviewing something they’ve heard before and learning more details and specifics than they may have been able to absorb in the past, and it is a teacher’s responsibility to meet the needs of those students who are behind as well. And, if one student is significantly ahead and unlikely to benefit from this particular lesson, the teacher can provide an alternative assignment that the student can work on independently or with another teacher or teacher’s aide that will challenge the student. Teachers also address those students who are behind the pace of the lesson. One important aspect of a classroom is the atmosphere. A good teacher needs to create an open and safe space where students can feel free to express their opinions and questions without worrying about being laughed at or mocked. In such a classroom, students for whom the lesson is going too quickly can speak up and ask the teacher to go back and explain something again or clarify a point they didn’t get. Even if they don’t, the teacher is assessing the success of the lesson as he or she goes, calling on random students to ask comprehension questions. If the students’ answers reveal that there are students who don’t get it, then the teacher goes back to help those students make more sense. And if there are one or two students who are still struggling, the teacher can provide them with more individual attention while the class works on a final activity to apply what they’ve learned in the lesson.
Another assertion the video makes is that the ideal way of teaching would be to have a tutor for every student, and since this isn’t feasible with humans, we will eventually have computers that can do this. While this certainly has its benefits, in that the teacher only has one pupil and can get to know him or her and tailor lessons specifically for that one person, and a computer could supposedly do the same thing even better, it fails to mention the many benefits that teaching multiple students can have. For one thing, teachers do not only teach history or algebra or whatever academic subject they are specifically discussing in class that day. School is also a place for students to learn valuable social, cultural, and moral values. Socially, students are learning how it is and is not appropriate to behave toward others, both their peers and authority figures. The teacher is responsible for assisting students in learning about things like teamwork and being able to interact with their peers positively. When things go wrong, the teacher corrects the students and explains to them why a certain behavior is not acceptable. These social lessons are aided by the fact that the student is interacting with many different people in school and getting practice learning how it is and is not acceptable to behave, which would be more difficult if students were spending the whole school day with only their tutor or computer. The same thing happens with cultural and ethical values. Part of the teacher’s responsibility is to help the students to understand the norms and mores of the culture in which they live and to teach students about moral and ethical issues and decisions that they are or may be making in the future. That’s not to say that the teacher just spells out right and wrong in black and white, but the teacher explains the different sides of the issue and invites students to think critically and develop their own moral code. To an extent, these things can be taught from lectures and tested with multiple choice questions on a test, but the real learning occurs from real life situations and relevant discussions. A tutor may be able to provide this, but I don’t think a computer would be nearly as effective.
Cgpgrey also discusses what is currently available in the form of educational videos and programs on the internet, like crashcourse and other things I can’t think of the names of. I watch crashcourse, and I really like the format and content John and Hank use in teaching about their respective subjects. But I personally don’t think I would benefit easily from it if I were actually learning these subjects in this way. I tend to zone in and out when I watch these videos, and trying to rewind the video and see what I missed is annoying and generally not worth the hassle. I’m sure that a lot of people who actually wanted to put in the effort to seriously study the content could learn a lot: they could rewatch the videos, take notes, pause and rewind, and so forth. The makers could even provide quizzes and guides for taking notes and testing retention of the material. But I don’t think that everyone can learn this way. I think it is very beneficial to have a living, breathing person in front of you to whom you can ask questions if you zone out for a second or don’t understand. A person who is paying attention to you while teaching you and can ask you questions and interact with you to determine what you actually get and what you need more help with. Such videos would also be really difficult to use for much beyond lecturing and simple testing. Unless you’re Professor Binns, teaching is more than just standing (floating) in front of a class and droning on until the bell rings. Teachers lecture, sure, but they also have class discussions, ask comprehension questions, do hands-on activities, break students into groups to work on projects, give demonstrations, address any misbehavior, and so forth. You can talk in a video for ten or fifteen minutes, and you can even include comprehension questions for the audience to answer and see how much they understand. But it’s more difficult to have discussions and do hands-on experiments and activities through video. Not that it’s impossible. YouTube comments are often insightful and helpful, once you wade through all the trolls, and you can easily provide instructions and directions in video form. But a video comment discussion is not the same as interacting face-to-face in a classroom. For one thing, you get immediate feedback in a class discussion, while you have to wait minutes or even hours or days for a comment response that may never come. And instruction videos are fairly limited. They can tell you what to do and what the results are supposed to be, but things can go wrong in many different ways, and a video can hardly cover all the different ways you can misunderstand the instructions and what the consequences will be. It helps to have an actual person there who can see what has happened and figure out what went wrong.
The video’s conclusion is to assert that someday everyone will learn via a computer program that will be able to determine what is beneficial to a student better than any teacher ever could and significantly limit the responsibilities of any remaining teachers. And I’m sure that this digital format could work for some students and some subjects. Already people are taking online classes and buying software like Rosetta Stone. But I don’t think that will work for everyone. I don’t think that it’s beneficial to completely remove the face-to-face interaction with an actual human being. I think there are human aspects that a computer is never going to be able to pick up on. Sure, the program can determine which types of videos seem to work better for a student, but it’s going to have a lot more trouble with the why. The computer will never be able to see that the kid is just having a bad day, or stayed up late last night and is having trouble staying awake, or is really distracted by the PE class playing softball outside. Computers can’t understand these kinds of causes, so they can’t do anything about them. All they can do is pick up on overall patterns in learning styles and preferences and choose videos accordingly. Computers are also not going to be able to hold students accountable. The computer can’t tell if the student is even watching the video, or if he or she is using notes or a textbook to answer test questions. It’s up to the students to put in an honest effort, and if they don’t, there is really little a computer can do about it.
This is not to say that technology has no use in education. Already, SmartBoards and computers have had a huge impact on the resources available to classrooms. Videos provide an alternate way for teachers to introduce or reinforce a concept. Students can research projects on the internet, and they can have online discussions. We talked in one of my classes about a project where students created Facebook accounts for historical figures and posted statuses and comments in character. Technology has the potential to bring subjects to life and extend students’ knowledge beyond what they can get from reading a textbook or listening to a lecture. We are already seeing that it has huge potential as a supplement to what already goes on in the classroom. I just don’t think that it should replace classroom interaction and teaching.
As a disclaimer, I am, obviously, not a teacher as of yet. Most of my opinions are coming from what I am learning in my education classes and my thus far limited classroom observations and interactions. I think it would be especially helpful to hear from a current teacher, or even to revisit this in a few years after I’ve started teaching myself. I do feel like both cgpgrey and I are presenting the extremes of the argument based on our own experiences and opinions, and the reality is probably somewhere in the middle: technology is certainly extremely valuable when used in the classroom, and even now it is revolutionizing education. I’m sure that, for some students and some subjects, a purely technological format for learning would be highly beneficial, in the same way that some people can teach themselves a language or calculus just from self-study from a textbook. But I do not think technology will ever be advanced enough to completely replace a living, breathing human being who is caring enough to want what is best for the students and knowledgeable enough to know what that is.