Can Computers Replace Teachers?: Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward

"Will computers replace teachers? Dear god I hope so," says Katherine Mangu-Ward, managing editor of Reason magazine.

At Reason Weekend 2013, the annual donor event for the nonprofit that publishes this website, Mangu-Ward discussed the future of education, how technology can change the classroom for the better and why she loves computers more than people.

About 21 minutes.

Filmed by Alex Manning and Meredith Bragg. Edited by Alex Manning.

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  • Heroic Mulatto||

    And what of us who aren't Aspies with crippling social anxiety, Katherine?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    ~@3:00 School as warehouse

    Really, Katherine? Your vision of education is encouraging entitled parents to spend less time with their children? Why don't we raise children in communal creches a la Brave New World? That way you never have to worry about picking up your 2-year-old!

    ~@6:00 Computers repeat lessons infinitely.

    Ok....but rote learning is a very small part of education. What happens when you get to skills that can't be taught through repetition alone?

  • John||

    The computers are getting smarter. We will never get full AI like SCIFI, at least not for a long time. But what we can get is AI in specific areas. We can get a program that can teach one subject or answer legal questions and such.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, John, when the Singularity happens a lot of things will be different. I won't be worrying if computers could replace teachers then.

  • John||

    If the singularity happens, we have all eternity to learn anything we like.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    rote learning is actually a fairly large part of education. Which is why the "Learning should be FUN brigade fail so often and so spectacularly; LEARNING isn't fun. Learning is mostly tiresome, at least learning the basics. Having an education is fun.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    LEARNING isn't fun. Learning is mostly tiresome, at least learning the basics

    If you enjoy the subject you're learning, even practicing the basics is fun. There is some call for rote learning in phonics decoding or mental arithmetic (times tables and such), but beyond that, no, I strongly disagree with you that rote learning is/should be a large part of educational instruction.

  • ||

    You've got it right. Ideally, learning should be fun. The very social concept of "fun" arises in part from learning and training how to deal with things. "Fun" is the incentive to learn something. If it's not at least somewhat entertaining, something's being done wrong.

  • Metazoan||

    I agree with HM. One thing that really annoys me about the general view of science, and especially biology, is the idea that it's about facts, and knowing the right answer. Actually, it's about systematic inquiry into nature, and that isn't taught through memorization.

    For me, at least, learning how to learn was far more educating and profound than learning some facts that someone else discovered.

  • Kendall Rigdon||

    No doubt you are in the education field and therefore threatened by what appears to be the cheapening of your profession. It is not an issue of time, as each state mandates the hours of schooling. This has no effect on family time for children.

    Teaching as a profession has lost its value simply because it has ceased to create citizens with values and replaced the process with the drudgery of curriculum. State education has dumbed down and excused poor performance. To make matters worse, they fail to acknowledge that academic excellence is not a direct transfer to personal happiness or even gainful employment.

    The true tragedy is two-fold. Those who are crusaders in the education field are being quashed. Like an unwanted energetic worker on a union job site, they are told to conform, rather than achieve. Second, children not suited to academia spend their formative years struggling to make grades that not only fail to transfer usable information or skill, but that also create a poor self image that can be degrading and debilitating.

    A computer, particularly in math, history or some of the sciences, can easily communicate the theorems to be learned. They also allow students to move at their own pace. Like it or not, your ilk, the ones who make snarky remarks in anonymity, have nothing to counter-offer in the proposal. Many educators are nothing more than baby sitters.

    And, because of that, yes, a computer can do a better job of it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    ~@10:44 One Laptop per Child? Are you being mendacious or are you just naive? OLpC is a scam, Katherine. You might want to scroll down to the article I linked and read the criticism section. Your cute anecdote proves nothing. If you actually had some knowledge of pedagogical theory, you'd know there is a huge difference between "skill" and "knowledge".

    ~@12:40 Schools based on outdate factory-training model

    Hallelujah! We agree. However, I wasn't aware that these white-collar jobs had computers replace managers.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I'll have to watch it later. I have to say that while I'm not opposed to orange per se, no one should ever wear an orange frock. Or any frock for that matter. Unless you have a really hideous body that needs to be hidden.

  • ||

    Maybe her day job is in construction.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I didn't know you could get a job as an orange barrel.

  • ||

    Amanda Marcotte would like a word with you.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I would rather go to the dentist than have a conversation with that twit.

  • John||

    And I would take the dentist even if he was out of gas and Novocaine.

  • MacKlingon||

    highway repair/construction

  • John||

    KMW is wildly thin. Not a bombshell. But certainly not hideous. And yeah, that orange frock is horrible. Did she get it from her grandmother's closet?

  • AlmightyJB||

    She's been listening to too much Macklemore.

  • Ted S.||

    I have to say that while I'm not opposed to orange per se, no one should ever wear an orange frock.

    Vicki Lawrence would like a word with you.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I will grant Vickie Lawrence an exception because Vickie Lawrence is awesome. I think you win the most obscure reference ever award for that link.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    ~@13:00 Open Online Courses

    Nope. I'm not nervous, Katherine. I'm not about to be replaced. As a language educator, I heard yowling from folks like you that Computer Aided Language Learning (CALL) was going to make me obsolete. Rosetta Stone has been around for 20 years, and yet, not only am I still employed, but the field of language education has grown.

    ~@15:33 Degrees as mere Vocational Training Certificates
    The insistence of fools like you who wish to debase higher education into a glorified Voc-Tech program for the Industrial-Military complex is exactly why American education is going down the toilet.

  • ||

    ~@15:33 Degrees as mere Vocational Training Certificates
    The insistence of fools like you who wish to debase higher education into a glorified Voc-Tech program for the Industrial-Military complex is exactly why American education is going down the toilet.

    With the "everyone goes to college" mentality of today, this really is probably the helpful/cost effective method for a very large portion of the less capable bottom.

  • John||

    What is higher ed but a glorified votech program? Take that away and what do you have left? Lefty indoctrination?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That's what we have now, yes. But it doesn't have to be that way. Although it's a different subject for a different thread, the fight for Liberty takes place in the fields of Philosophy, History, Law, and even Literature. You know, the Liberal Arts. You can't use quantum electrodynamics to illustrate why a system of voluntary interaction between individuals is morally superior to a system of coercion.

  • John||

    But why do you need a university to learn those things? That is the great thing about today, we have access to so much information, you can learn those things yourself. And they are a lifetime project anyway.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    you can learn those things yourself

    If you're an autodidact, great! However, many folks are not. Those folks are willing to pay for instruction.

    And they are a lifetime project anyway.


  • John||

    That is what the internet is for. I can listen to lectures on line. I can chat with other students and mentors. Why go to college?

  • ||

    Because the internet did it backward, and there is no porn college?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Why go to college?

    Well, one reason right now is accountability. In her talk, KMW admits that many online college programs are crap. The quality of instruction is poor, and online cheating is rampant. I agree with her that as online college courses increase in popularity these problems will fix themselves as programs will gain and lose in reputation; however, we're not at that point yet.

  • Kendall Rigdon||

    You leave me chuckling out loud. Higher education has sealed its own fate. Self-appointed intellectual luminaries were destined to implode. Higher education is a failure because it fails to meet the basic economic tenet of value.

    When civil rights legislation provided the impetus to establish admission criteria on things like gender or race, the academic standard took a back seat. And thus, the downward slide for the value of a college education began. Like most situations, educators have no one to blame but themselves. They lack circumspection. In their arrogance they assumed that they would always be wanted or needed and therefore, abandoned the consideration of value for education.

    College degrees are largely meaningless now. Many have diplomas in useless degrees and a college loan in the tens of thousands of dollars to repay. There just is little to no value.

    Universities have lost there way because they are rife with your beliefs. Esoteric education does not survive without value. And, you have cheapened your own way of life because you eschew values and ignore reality.

    Repeat after me, because you will need this soon: "Would you like fries with that?"

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    ~@18:10 Scary Negroes

    Holy shit! Katherine went there! White flight online!

    ~@19:00 School Choice and Government Regulation

    This is what you need to stick to, KMW. Education should be a marketplace of ideas and methodologies. I don't dispute that. What I dispute is your full-throated support of computerized/online education as a panacea for educational ills across the world. Your utopian vision just isn't true. In many areas, the pedagogical methodology of computerized/online education is inferior to a traditional classroom-based student-teacher interaction. Especially, in the instruction of meta-cognitive skills.

  • ||

    Henry Ford, why do you hate the blacksmiths and the buggy manufacturers?


  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Oh, come off it! It's not luddite-ism to point out that the so-called "innovation" produces inferior results.

  • ||

    It is to believe that this must always be the case.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It is to believe that this must always be the case.

    And where did I argue that? Upthread, I agree with John that if we had a computer teacher with AI that would be superior method. But we're not there yet. I'm not against computerized/online education, per se, however, I find KMW's insistence that Computer Aided Learning (CAL) is a superior pedagogical method to real-time, unscripted interaction between student and qualified instructor to be ludicrous.

    Quite frankly, KMW consistently proves that she has no idea about how people actually learn, which is fine, she is a journalist, not an educationist. But don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining, especially if I'm a meteorologist.

  • DJF||

    """'to real-time, unscripted interaction between student and qualified instructor to be ludicrous.""'

    And how often do we have real time unscripted interaction between a student and qualified instructor? What we have now is mostly highly scripted lecturing from one instructor (whose qualifications is based on bureaucracy not knowledge or ability) to many students often of very different ability.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I agree with you on that point.

  • General Butt Naked||


    I've had chemistry classes where the professor uses the powerpoint/lesson plan given by the company that makes the book. The slides just reinforce what the book says and are read verbatim by the "professor".

    So you google the power point, google any questions you have with the material (faster than trying to get a response from a prof/ta), and now you don't have to go to class.

    My point being that many students are already being taught by computer, but it isn't that obvious. I don't know about other fields, but in the sciences power point has basically ruined pedagogy. It's so rampant that many classes now make you make a power point presentation as a final or independent project.

    After going through the derivations for quantum mechanics via power point, I've become very bitter on the subject. For the high cost of a university education the teaching should be a bit better; maybe it's time to put a bit of separation between research and pedagogy.

  • ||

    My point being that many students are already being taught by computer


    I see little difference in on-line stuff than my Aerospace Engineering professors droning at a blackboard (dating myself) in front of 150 students for 50 minutes. With me trying to copy down everything he wrote so I could figure it out later.

    I was, later, required to get a masters for work (any masters). I got an accredited MBA entirely online. Granted it was a bullshit degree, but what did I care? I was not going to use it, anyway. And I learned a

    Some people don't need/want a Harvard degree. Computer based shit is an awesome alternative.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I see little difference in on-line stuff than my Aerospace Engineering professors droning at a blackboard (dating myself) in front of 150 students for 50 minutes. With me trying to copy down everything he wrote so I could figure it out later.

    It's funny, my p-chem 1 class (quantum) was taught via the method I outlined above, and my p-chem 2 class (thermodynamics) was taught the way you mention. I actually liked the "proof on the board method" much better because I could go back and do the proofs again later and figure it out for myself. The "point at the slide" method of derivation made it much harder for me to learn the fundamentals.

    It seemed that by going through the motions with the professor (if they explained what they're doing while they're doing it) gave me a deeper understanding of the material.

  • ||

    Still no reason those lectures couldn't be put online in that format. I wouldn't need to drag my hungover ass out of bed for an 8AM class AND I could review it as often as I needed.

  • General Butt Naked||

    For sure.

    When I got a job doing research I had to learn a bit of computer programming, and I used youtube lectures to learn what I needed.

    Being able to rewind and watch things over and over again helped a lot.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Furthermore, when it comes to Luddism, it's KMW and the online education industry that's pushing for an obsolete educational model. Every single one of KMW's examples were based off of a Behaviorist model of knowledge acquisition. Behaviorism has been debunked long ago.

    For example, if you're a child of the 80's or older, your first exposure to foreign language instruction was probably in a "language lab", where you had to put on headphones, listen to a tape (tape players have infinite patience too, Katherine!), and repeat "Ou est la bibliotheque?" over and over again. And if you're like most Americans, if you even remember a little of your foreign language, you probably suck at it. It is not until they spend an extended time in another country, immersed in that language, do most people acquire a second language with some fluency.

    The Interactionist model of knowledge acquisition is where pedagogy is at now. Due to technological limitations, the online education crowd would have us return to an outmoded instructional model of Behavioralism.

    Who is the one that's against progress again?

  • General Butt Naked||

    Let me ask you something a bit off topic, as you should know.

    Why the hell do we wait so long to teach kids a foreign language in this country? I didn't have french class until I was 15. I took it for four goddamn years, and can only ask where the library is.

    Hasn't it been shown that language acquisition is most easily done at a younger age?

    Is it the teacher's unions not wanting to make a 2nd language a requirement for teaching, or just a cultural, American thing?

    This has always bothered me because I would like to learn another language, but it's always been too hard. I even tried to pick up arabic 5 years into college, but had to give up as I couldn't fucking get it. I'd learn enough to pass a test then lose it, and as the courses more and more relied upon previously acquired knowledge I found myself lost.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    In my opinion it's a combination of several factors. The first is the cultural belief that elementary school should focus on "the basics", a foreign language is not considered to be one of "the basics".

    Secondly, it would require one of two models. The first model would require elementary school teachers to be bilingual. The average elementary school teacher is barely able to master chewing with her mouth closed. The second model would have a foreign language as a special, like Gym, Art, or Music. The problem with that is 45 minutes once a week is not sufficient to learn another language with fluency.

    The method that works, two-way bilingual immersion, was pioneered by American parochial schools in ethnic enclaves (French, Italian, and Spanish). Of course, the Progressives in charge of Public Education couldn't stand the filthy lil' Papists showing them up, so they did their best to crush them. This legacy remains today.

    The experience you describe in learning Arabic is common. Unfortunately, learning a language and keeping it requires immersion in the language. Taking a class and using the language in the classroom and then going outside and switching to your native language just doesn't cut it. If you studied Arabic, while chillin' in the United Arab Emirates, say, where you could take a class and then be forced to use what you know the other 23 hours in the day, you'd find that your brain would keep a lot more of what you learned.

  • General Butt Naked||

    The thing that sucked was that before I started taking arabic I had a job with mostly arabic people and wanted to learn the language.

    So, I was immersed, but had to quit so that I could finish school. I would try to get a job working for an oil company in the ME but they pretty much keep the anglos away from the native populations.

    Is there any way to self-teach yourself a language, or is immersion the only real way to learn?

  • Jon Lester||

    I've been less than disciplined in my own language studies, but I can tell you one thing that works; I keep myself motivated by women...

  • ||

    Why the hell do we wait so long to teach kids a foreign language in this country?
    The costs of teaching foreign languages are high, the benefits for most people in the United States are low.

    Costs first. Learning it early isn't enough, you've got to keep it going throughout your education/life for enough time at a high enough frequency. Are you going to study the same language for K-12? Which one? Other than maybe Spanish (where you'll have other qualification problems), where are you going to find enough teachers who know the language to teach that many people for that long? Maybe you can get some Arabic/Chinese silos in NYC/DC, but that's not relevant to wider education and it sucks teachers away from more widespread teaching at other levels or other jobs (court/business translation).

  • ||

    What are the benefits? An ability to speak conversational French on your 1-4 vacations throughout your life? For that you devote how much time? An increased number of translators for business? They have a much stronger incentive to learn English, it's their problem.

    For small/medium countries in Europe universal comprehensive language skills make sense, because you have relatively limited economic, cultural, and leisure activities in your own country compared to the US. So you learn some neighbors' language. Which? Well, the UK is one of the biggest countries, it also lets you watch Hollywood product without subtitles, and work in international business or fly a plane. So you learn English and further reduce the benefits of Americans and Brits learning another language. There's a very large asymmetry in benefits here.

  • Ted S.||

    Which? Well, the UK is one of the biggest countries, it also lets you watch Hollywood product without subtitles,

    The acquaintances I have from Finland say that being able to watch Hollywood stuff subtitled (as opposed to dubbed which was done for a long time in countries like Germany) is something that really helped them learn English.

  • Jon Lester||

    Well, someone, somewhere, must be doing something wrong on an institutional level, because the nations of the former Warsaw Pact have the best public schools in the world, and they run them on a shoestring.

  • Ted S.||

    For example, if you're a child of the 80's or older, your first exposure to foreign language instruction was probably in a "language lab", where you had to put on headphones, listen to a tape (tape players have infinite patience too, Katherine!), and repeat "Ou est la bibliotheque?" over and over again.

    My grandparents were from the old country, so I had a different experience picking up the foundations of German. Unfortunately, it mean that when I started taking German at school in the 8th grade, I was well ahead of all the other students.

  • alittlesense||

    Ou est la bibliotheque? Omelette du fromage!

    Tu est la bibliotheque!

  • ||

    If you can get a 70% product for 50% cost, that's a win for lots of people. This is one of those few things Matt Yglesias hits periodically that he's right about.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    If you can get a 70% product for 50% cost, that's a win for lots of people.

    And all power to you. But don't get all smug and claim that you're getting a superior product. It's like some dude giving me shit for drinking one bottle of Westvleteren 12 when he's downing a case of Natty Light.

  • ||

    Well, duh. He could be drinking 2 cases of PBR for 50% of the flavor and 300% irony.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    When examining schools, I look at factors like the instructional methods, curriculum, qualification of the teachers, etc.

    So, if I had a choice between sending my child to a school in a middle-class Black yuppie (Buppie) neighborhood, say in Brooklyn or Dallas, as opposed to a school in poor rural White Appalachia, you're damn right I'd send my kid to the majority Black school.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I don't know that it would be possible to find a "middle class black" neighborhood.

    They do exist, you can find them in places like Brooklyn, Dallas, Atlanta, around D.C.

    Needless to say, the exception proves the rule, and there are good reasons, beyond just not liking black people, to not want to send your kid to an inner city black school.

    I agree. I was criticizing KMW's insistence that she wanted to have her cake and eat it too, that is, she wanted the creative-class hipster cool of living in the city, but didn't want to expose her precious lil' snowflake to any of the negatives associated with urban living.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    ~@21:00 Online education as enabling school choice

    I agree with you that opting-out is a good strategy. The proliferation of online education will led to increased school choice, which is a good thing. However, if these schools become popular, those who don't see the seeds for another dot com bubble are fools. In short, KMW needs to be more realistic about what computerized/online education can and cannot do. Her techno-utopian shtick turns off those who actually have knowledge about pedagogy, educational psychology, and teaching methodology. Again, while the online education industry provides a vehicle in which to break the government quasi-monopoly on education, we must be honest in admitting that as a pedagogical method, it is in many ways inferior to methods that allow for real-time, non-scripted interaction between students and between students and their instructor.

  • Jordan||

    Heroic Mulatto, have you heard of ChinesePod? It's a Chinese language learning website that I currently subscribe to. They publish weekly podcasts. It really is amazing. Before I found it, I tried Rosetta Stone and hated it. It really is phenomenal for learning vocabulary and listening skills. My wife helped me perfect my pronunciation. I also use an SRS program called Anki to review vocab.

    Anyhoo, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I have heard of ChinesePod, actually. I'm assuming your wife is a native speaker of Chinese? With her as a resource, together is the blended instruction that KMW talks about. As you state, it's a good method for acquiring vocabulary and improving your listening. Especially with a tonal language, your ear needs a lot of time listening to the various tones before your brain decides tone carries lexical meaning. I agree with the 3 principles behind their pedagogy. I would say a big part of your success is that you have your wife to practice with, giving you the immersive, non-scripted interaction that you need. I have a similar situation with my wife and Thai.

    I'm curious, how is your reading and writing? We (applied) linguists divide language into Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). CALP is the language you'd need to study a subject like math or history in Chinese, for example. How do your practice your reading and writing?

    Also, do you use Zon? The MMO designed to teach Chinese?

  • Jordan||

    Gotta run for now, but will reply to you in a bit!

  • Jordan||

    Yes, she's a native speaker. Unfortunately for me, her English is as a good as a native speaker's, so it's hard to not just speak English together.

    My reading and writing are pretty weak, since I've decided the time investment just isn't worth it. If I lived in China, my attitude would be different. I can write around 200 characters, and read about 400-500.

    As for learning reading/writing, I primarily use "Remembering Simplified Hanzi" by Heisig and Richardson. Instead of the usual method of just writing a character over and over, they associate a memorable phrase or story with each. I really can't praise this method enough.

    A couple of other methods I've found are watching Chinese dramas with my wife, since they have Chinese dialogue and Chinese subtitles, and watching while she sings karaoke. The karaoke is great because songs are slower and clearer than spoken dialogue, and you can read along.

    As for Zon, I hadn't heard of it, but plan to take a look at it now. Thanks!

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    HM, do you have any suggestions for someone who doesn't get many opportunities to practice Chinese with a native speaker?

  • Jordan||

    You might look into sites like italki or livemocha. Both offer free language exchange (i.e. you help English learners, and they help you with their native language) via VOIP or writing. If you can afford it, they offer help from professional teachers as well. ChinesePod offers speaking courses too.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Somebody's ox has been gored.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Not just an ox, a sacred cow!

    But you're right, this is in my wheelhouse, so to speak, and I have passionate views on the subject. I'm tired of KMW spreading her ignorance with the orange-hued libertarian imperatur of the Reason foundation.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I went back to college and finished my Finance degree a couple of years ago. I took a few courses online. Some were pretty comparable to the classroom experience. But my online Business Law class was really superior. The instructor really understood how to use the internet to create dialogue/discussion/debate. It had a very rigorous schedule, lots of reading and writing, and participation was mandatory. If this class is used as a model of online education, it could replace the traditional university model.

    Again, I think the instructor really understood how to utilize online instruction.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I believe some combination of mechanical groundwork-laying and human fine tuning would work best. At some point, the FAQ will fail to provide a satisfactory answer to a nuanced question. That does not mean there is not a wide and deep zone in which a standardized automated curriculum can be put to good use.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That does not mean there is not a wide and deep zone in which a standardized automated curriculum can be put to good use.

    That sounds like a positive, but when you think about it the strength, in my opinion, of pre-No Child Left Behind American education was that it wasn't standardized. It was decentralized, build from the bottom-up, with most of the curricular choices made at the municipal level. This allowed for a more dynamic educational system that was customized to the needs of the individual community.

    Indeed, it is more cost-effective to record a lecture one time and have it webcast on demand. (And professors better wise up and demand royalties) However, there is the danger of instruction being fossilized. In certain fields, knowledge advances quickly, information taught in a lecture a year ago can be completely different now. Institutional inertia, being what it is, will resist having to pay for an updated lecture. Not even to say what will be lost when those "teachable moments" occur in an individual lecture with a certain group of students is lost.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Of course the real question isn't "Can computers replace teachers?", it's "Can computers replace the sub literate and moronic products of teachers' college?"

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Can computers replace the sub literate and moronic products of teachers' college?"

    Those people could be replicated with punchcard technology.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    BROKEN punchcard technology.



    and microfiche

  • The Late P Brooks||

    the strength, in my opinion, of pre-No Child Left Behind American education was that it wasn't standardized.

    I was thinking of "standardized" in the sense of multiplication tables, or the timing of historical events such as the landing of the Mayflower. Simple, straightforward factual information.

    Not so much in the sense of "Woodrow Wilson was a great President, who tried to drag a kicking and screaming America into a modern Progressive's one-world paradise."

  • ed_advocacy||

    The last ten years, I have used an online school to educate my four children. Luckily, I live in a State very legislatively open to alternative education and this virtual school was a public charter school with teachers available to assist. When I began this endeavor years ago, I along with many others were skeptical and I was continually told my children would fail academically. My children have not failed but the exact opposite has occurred! They have thrived as this option allowed a customized education for each student. Also, it has reduced educational apathy and my children are self-motivated to complete their schooling and take responsibility for their education which also continues to excel their success. It allows them to review or move ahead in material which is another big benefit as well as allowing more time to pursue outside interests. All our children score advanced on state standardized testing with many perfect scores on some tests. Our personal family experience has been more parental involvement. The increase in parental participation was noted among the opposition augments when our state wished to expand online opportunities for brick / mortar students. I found this extremely sad as student success is more likely achieved when parents involve themselves. I too am excited about future educational prospects and expansion in online learning and hope to see an increase of young students given access.


    Can Computers Replace Teachers?

    As long as they never reduce costs, are unionized, completely ineffective, and programmed for a progressive liberal bias managed on high by a Federal Department of Right-Think, then sure, I hardly think anyone would notice a difference.

  • ||

    Federal Department of Left-Think

    Fixed. Also, the DoL needs you to come in for some Community Training, GILMORE.

  • triclops||

    Heroic Mullato,

    I find KMW's description of teaching to be far more accurate than yours for the vast majority of the actual teaching being done. You are describing what "ought", she is describing what "is", for all but a few cases.

    I make a decent living off compensating for the vast inadequacies of high school math and science teachers.

  • phandaal||

    My brother and I hit the "sweet spot" and experienced public schooling (pre- and post- No Child etc.) with a few years of homeschooling in the middle. Some of my best lessons during homeschooling came from interactive study-games on the computer.

    When we did return to public school we were both so far ahead of the curve that we tested out of everything possible and were relegated to sitting glumly in other classes for years until the curriculum caught up to where we already were.

    When I was in public school, typically one out of six classes would be good and have an engaging teacher who'd open our minds to new ways of thinking. The rest were a waste of time during which we could have been learning something else, or really doing anything besides sitting captive with a bunch of other kids. Since we have the internet these days, I'm confident that the interaction from those one out of six teachers can be replicated without actually going to a classroom.

    Finally (and this one is directed at the first comment on this story), homeschooled kids interact with just as many friends as kids in larger public or private schools. There are a vast amount of activities for kids outside of the home. Insinuating that children who don't want to interact with a large group of peers day in and day out have Asperger's is incredibly crass and insulting to both them and the children who actually are born that way.

  • triclops||

    not to mention, there are a lot of "lord of the flies" aspects to public schooling that don't get appropriate coverage when comparing home schooling vs public schooling.

  • phandaal||

    Exactly. It seems like she's talking more about computerizing large schools than using computerized courses to decentralize the act of schooling, but it's still worth bringing up that valuable learning can be done without a teacher. My personal experience with this activity and its effectiveness is from my homeschooling days.

    Also, upon further thought, HM is probably talking about kids who'd prefer to deal with a machine than a person. Comparing them to people with Asperger's in a negative light is still pretty low, though.

  • mitch77||

    How is she an idiot? Let us count the ways:
    She's an idiot:
    Computer teachers and curricula would be absolutely perfect for abuse. We've seen the dangers of computerized voting machines. Now imagine the many ways a computer could be used to destroy young minds and morals. Add to this some perverse mind control and "anti-your family values/morals" and that's just the beginning.

    She's an idiot.
    A *GOOD*, (note: I said "GOOD") teacher will vastly out perform any computer. A GOOD teacher can look into the eyes of a student and see if they really get it. A good teacher can see not only WHAT the weaknesses are in a student's abilities but *WHY*. The same errors can be for very different results. There are a host of ways different humans learn. A good teacher can use them all and SEE when the info is registering.

    She's an idiot:
    Any comp teacher proposal would rely and eager engaged student...those self driven few. The vast majority of kids will do as little as they can. Imagine with me a computer generated pep talk that causes a student to change his ways....

    She's an idiot.
    She has ONE (1) child and is whining like the kids some burden on her! She is eager to shove the kid off on others. Does this fool really imagine all others have kids like hers? Does she not know there are children will HUGE potential that need adult supervision, or mature contact, compassionate guidance, etc etc. They are not all driven little automatons.

  • mitch77||


    I have 4 "A" student children, all are also musicians, and nationally ranked athletes.
    2 at Olympic Training Center training for 2016). Eldest graduated Magna cum Laude w/dual Maj's - Hist & Econ.
    All in college between age 15 and 17. 19 yr old will have Masters in Engineering in 1 yr.

    And guess what?
    We did the EXACT opposite of this idiots suggestion:
    We taught them at home from age two, till college.
    Home schooled, OH such a trial - how did we ever survive it?
    It's no accident that all the ivy league schools head hunt homeschooled kids.
    It's no accident that the homsschooled average 1 to 2 grade higher than PRIVATE schooled kids which average 1 to 2 grades higher than public schooled kids. And since socialization depends almost entirely on how secure the child is home schooled kids ate far more well socialized than public schooled kids. Also why my 4 (2 girls then 2 boys ) are leaders in everything they join. Their peers elevate them and even seek counsel. When the local school board discovered what my wife was able to do (with no college I might add) they came three time and begged her to come and teach. We explained each time our kids and even our "full ride to Wash U" foster daughter were the result of "in your face" close contact teaching. It can NOT be done to a room of 30 as well. But any teacher who tries even a little bit will do far better than any computer in the foreseeable future.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I can see conservatives, libertarians, and other stingy free-market people who feel ALL TAXES ARE THEFT wanting computers in the class room.

    Just think, we can replace every single public school in america with twelve teachers teaching each grade on TV. We can record them the 1st year, and then fire the 12 teachers. This way, kids can just turn on the TV, and depending what grade they are in, they can watch class on TV.

    Can you imagine how much taxes we would save by just closing down all of the schools and replacing them with videos. A libertarian Utopia.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Alice, your thoughtful post has convinced me. It IS moral for me to expect others to provide an education for my children. As long as the intention is good, I should favor wealth transfers at the point of a gun.

  • JeremyR||

    Taxes are armed robbery, not so much theft.

    Or maybe extortion, since they only threaten to send armed people after you if you don't pay up, they don't sent them to collect.

    But I dunno, I think the libertarian utopia idea would be for those people with kids to pay for their kid's education, if not provide it themselves. And for those that can't afford it, some sort of charity education.

  • IT||

    Come on - this didn't work in a Welcome Back Kotter episode and it won't work now!

  • mayajan67||

    as Rosa replied I'm in shock that a mother can profit $7576 in one month on the internet. have you seen this site link

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