As technology develops and the presence of robots and AIs steadily increases, one of the most commonly shared fears of the public is job loss, particularly in education. With the intellectual capability of robots, it becomes an ethical question of whether or not they may be more equipped to educate over human teachers. Beyond that, it may even be more cost effective (because robots do not require payroll, benefits, ect.) to make a switch over to robot teachers.
As a future educator, this raises a number of concerns in my mind. My first priority, of course, is the well being of students. I wouldn’t be so bold to say that I am absolutely the most equipped to teach, and if there were to exist a robot that could do my job more effectively, then perhaps I wouldn’t be opposed to the possibility. However, to my knowledge, robots are currently restricted in their ability to be completely emotionally competent. There are skills I am confident that I possess that a robot does not, such as my understanding of culturally competent pedagogy, how to alter a lesson plans based on my current students’ abilities, and how to teach a classroom in which some students may be three grades behind while some are three ahead.
The study attached focused on the current robot presence in Asian cultures. As of now, a variety of robot types are being used as tools in the classroom in combination with a teacher. They are used primarily for teaching English language, but are also found in several math and science classes as well.
The study pointed out an interesting observation: the students were much more comfortable with the robots. While teachers requested to have total control and for the robots to have restricted autonomy, students reported they would feel more comfortable is the robots acted more human-like and could better display emotion.
I think this is an interesting concept but it is understandable. Teachers, as adults, are more reluctant to change especially when it challenges their abilities. For the most part, these teachers are given very little instruction on how to utilize this technology and beyond that, they may even be fearful of what the robots are capable of. Students, however, are still active learners and welcome change. They are growing up in a very technologically advance age, and this is non-threatening to them.
The study went on to say that there is no present threat of robots actually taking over teaching jobs, more so a push towards incorporating them in classrooms as tools.