You can't compare a teacher that has a class of 15 native english speaking, upper middle class, 2 parent house holds kids to a teacher with a class of 32 english as a second langurage, poor, hungry, cold, kids that are children of drug addicts, drunks, refugees especially using test written in English.
Mark said something like poor comunities have a problem with bad teachers. WTF? How about poor students have a problem learning regardless of who the teacher is.
software could work for the motivated learner. But so would an abacus or a pen and paper.
Nor should you, but hopefully no one is seriously suggesting comparing those two groups directly. What you can do is compare teachers to their peers in similar schools, and see whose students improve more over a given year. If an average student in Teacher A's class goes from reading at level x to x+2 in the course of a year, that's better than going from x to x+1.
To your first point...maybe 30 kids isn't a big enough sample. I'm not suggesting this be implemented tomorrow as the absolute standard on which to judge teachers. Maybe they need to be observed over 3-5 years, maybe we can try to control/adjust for other variables. What bothers me is the idea that because measuring teacher skill/success is difficult, we shouldn't try at all and just use seniority (or absolute test scores) as the single deciding factor.
I think you completely underrate the very real problem of bad teachers in poor cities. This is not just teachers merely being unable to teach kids with all manner of problems - there are many teachers who are actively making things worse, in many cases being both verbally and physically abusive to the students.
The very real problem of teacher evaluation does not in anyway obviate the fact that many teachers in poor communities are more horrible than most would dare imagine.
That just isn't true. Most school districts don't even get rid of the teachers who are so horrible they shouldn't be allowed near children not to mention the ones that just don't care and kick their feet up and let the kids run wild.
You should check out the documentary "Waiting for Superman". http://www.takepart.com/waiting-for-superman It is on Netflix.
Compare that to something more dynamic like Khan Academy, where the subjects all build on each other like a directed graph. Students learn at their own pace, and gamification techniques get them to come back for more. Subject mastery isn't based on tests, but is constantly checked using heuristics which can determine whether a student needs help in a particular area. Oh, and grades get thrown out the window since everyone achieves complete mastery in the subject.
If you think of replacing teachers with a traditional Udacity style MOOC, yeah, I can't really see it happening. The only benefit they offer is that you don't have to be at the course in person. Could something like Khan Academy replace teachers? Clearly not entirely, however there are so many more benefits to learning this way, that it certainly is in the realm of possibility.
Now think about the MOOCs we have now, and imagine what the 8th generation of MOOCs will look like. I can't imagine that. But I can imagine that it will possibly be more effective than the average teacher out there.
One of the greatest things about a MOOC is that your teacher can be a feynman caliber instructor. For a student that is willing to put in a lot of effort and has the desire to learn, what is going to better for you, a year's worth of pre-recorded feynman, or an average physics teacher? that might be up for debate, but personally, i'm going with feynman every single time.
Feynman was brilliant, and I have a set of both his lectures for freshman and the ones he did on gravitation. But he was not a gifted teacher. He was a gifted learner. Those of us who can follow him can see an amazing mind at work. But gifted teachers will look into students minds and help them build new understandings.
But that's just my point: there is no 0 to 100 scale of 'goodness' in teaching. And Feyman, regardless of his brilliance, doesn't sit at the top of hierarchy of teaching excellence. It's about fit between the student and the delivery the instructor. The Feynman lectures in video form can not be the pinnacle of physics instruction because they're fixed, not adaptable to the needs of different learners.
You said "his teaching can be highly effective when matched to the proper audience." I disagree. He famously could teach extremely effectively to any level of audience.
You said Feynman "doesn't sit at the top of hierarchy of teaching excellence." Many people would disagree. Many people consider him the greatest physics teacher ever.
In terms of just the Feynman lectures in video form, Yes, I agree that they are limited. But I brought up Feynman because I believe a feynman caliber instructor alive today with the existing possibilities in software and video would definitely be able to make something very adaptable to many learners and easily more effective than the average teacher.
I learnt from books and was guided by my teachers. I expect my kids will learn from books, videos and software and still be guided by teachers.
And as someone who has spent a fruitless day googling for how to do a relatively simple task I can confidently state that mentoring by an accomplished human beats software any day of the week.
I don't see how that follows. Horse-drawn vehicles weren't replaced by trains, but they still were eventually replaced. I don't know if teachers will be replaced by software, but the fact that they weren't replaced by previous technologies is hardly strong evidence against it.
Well, let's look at the evidence. Since that event, have you stopped using Google and hired a teacher to follow you around to you can ask her/him stuff?
Assuming you haven't, then clearly Google is a better solution, whether it is due to cost, breadth of information, availability, etc.
Now, of course, learning a syllabus is hardly the same as searching for information on random tasks. But then again, so would any software designed to "replace teachers"; clearly no one will suggest using Google for the task.
Personally, I don't think teachers as a whole will be replaced, but I can see it allowing teachers to take on bigger classes, allowing administrators to cut costs by firing a few.
So we agree - teachers won't get replaced :-)
but books allowed teachers to take on bigger classes too - and what happened is more people went to classes and we needed more teachers. Maybe we shall see something similar just less classrooms?
And the reason we need to fire the bad ones is that, unlike software, you can't just replicate their product wherever you need and let the bad ones wilt away through neglect.
I've taken a couple MOOCs, and have not been terribly impressed with the mechanical grading algorithms.
Teachers may be replaced by software, but I don't believe the substitution is of equal for equal.
|| What is Open Teaching?
|| Open teaching means teaching using open materials and providing open access to those materials on the internet.
I gotta say I agree, I would love to see a future where the teachers are curating the content rather than the assigned curriculum. But those bad teachers, they've really come to rely on their curriculums.
P.S. looking forward to see what you guys come up with!
Good curriculums are covering over a lot of poor teaching.
Writing a good curriculum is hard and it's exceptionally difficult to do that as a lone teacher for a novel course. The results will be variable, and this is where you will the very most awful courses.
I couldn't agree more about the difficulty in creating a good curriculum. The big question in our minds becomes whether or not a decentralized and distributed system can create great curricula and reduce the pressure on that lone teacher. I believe the answer is yes and with such a system we end up with better courses.
What do you mean by being a guide ?
You're talking about a very hard problem. Something like Knewton will never replace human teachers.
And why is replacing human teachers desirable, anyway? If anyone succeeded at it (and no one will) it would probably be bad, on the whole, for society. If no one can make money teaching, the value of knowledge goes down. That would just lead to ignorance and bolster the already obnoxious anti-intellectualism of American society.
At least in math, spotting areas of difficulty for students based on data on previous exercises and data from other students does seem possible.
These systems rely on humans to curate the conceptual difficulties associated with each problem separately, but those lists are never complete and often just confuse the student further.
Some systems don't even try to do what you're suggesting, and just give students the "right" way to solve the problem at hand after a certain number of attempts. These are by far the worst, as it's painfully easy to game the system.
The answer, like the answer to most things, is likely in the middle. Software including but not limited to lecture content from subject matter experts will enhance and modify the way the classroom interacts allowing local "teachers" to focus on their students.
And I'm saying this as someone who prefers to learn from books. So what else is there? Individualized attention? Community and networking? Human interaction? Motivation and structure? Signaling? Probably some combination.
Any real replacement needs to address all of these; video lectures, digital notes, and online questions are just reinventing what I can already pick up at the book store.
However, the One to Many lectures WILL be replaced by Software.
The teachers that I most fondly remember weren't the ones that taught me the most material, or ensured that I got the highest test scores. They were the teachers who inspired me; the ones who unlocked a deep curiosity and desire for learning inside me.
The current system doesn't care that much about motivation (although it is changing). You take classes largely because you have to. You learn so that you can pass a test.
Openness in teaching is a big piece of the puzzle, but it isn't the end of the road. In software, for example, I would argue that by becoming more open, motivation to improve was increased among developers (I don't want to be the one with the terrible code on Github). Of course, in software, the target of openness and the one who needs to be motivated are the same person; you. This isn't the same in education. Increasing openness among teachers will undoubtedly have an effect, but the customer for education isn't the teacher.
We are essentially circling the problem by saying "students aren't learning, let's change things around with the teachers." I think that teachers are very important, and I definitely don't advocate mass firings. I just really hope that we find a way to rephrase the goal to something more along the lines of "students aren't learning, how can we work with the student?" If this is teaching basic stuff largely through online methods and having teachers spend more time with students, great. If this is increasing transparency surrounding schools, great. Personally, I hope that some combination of better software that automates basic stuff and allows teachers to work one on one with students more often, more information, and more training will do it.
But research professors who either can't lecture or don't try to lecture well? It's almost inevitable. Lectures are a commodity that can be recorded and broadcast at a massive scale. Individual or small-group instruction isn't a commodity.
that's true ... until discourse with AI becomes more valuable and efficient investment of time.
In the meantime, discourse with a good teacher in China for example may be more valuable then one with a bad teacher here.
I think the author is spot on. I think the idea of firing all teachers to get the results you want undermines the profession as a whole and I really appreciate his analogy to firing the "bottom 10%" of programmers. There is just so much more a teacher has to do to reach "success", especially when dealing with low-income communities, students with disabilities, or even different levels of aptitude/learning styles. I don't see teachers replacing software with the current solutions.
Credentials: I'm a former TFA teacher turned software engineer and I tutor web development in 1-to-1 sessions on nights/weekends.
Current model of education: Multidisciplinary, value-free, with an emphasis on standardized tests.
Compare this to:
Alfred North Whitehead's reform model: Transdisciplinary, values-laden, with an emphasis on the importance of imagination. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_North_Whitehead#Views_on...
Note that multidisciplinary means teaching small parts of a large number of disconnected subjects, whereas transdisciplinarity means teaching a few important ideas that organically link many different subjects and that apply to real life.
Same incorrect argument people always pull out about with automation. Prove you need some => then you need all.
Software will make teachers 10%+ better then they'll fire the bottom 10% (or just 10%)
As it is class size mattering is a myth. A good teacher can teacher quite a large class. Studies don't show a small class makes a lot of difference.
Unfortunately, a whole series of public policy decisions have forced teachers of multiple levels to teach badly.
And there's no reason not to replace someone lecturing to a 200 person class or someone merely prepping for standardized tests with software.
However their influence and once revered role in society as educators, proliferators of knowledge, will be dethroned by a growing increase of digital information and autodidacticism.
The only question for each profession is "when?".