Formerly SpringBlog

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Becoming Obsolete: The Teaching Profession

In Chapter 3 of Shirky's Here Comes Everybody, he discusses the domains of the professional being attempted by the amateur. Shirky explains that at the start of this phenomena, the professional is not worried because he views his competitors as his main setback. It is harder for the professional to imagine that his area of expertise might one day become obsolete, therefore, he becomes blinded by this false sense of security.

In class on Tuesday we discussed some of the various professions that have become obsolete. After presenting this notion, a question was raised: Are teachers secure in their position, or do they risk becoming obsolete as well? Obviously, with the recent budget cuts occurring nationwide, teachers have been on their toes in regards to their value within the education system. Nonetheless, there might just be other threats to the profession as well. Technology can be one of them.

One recent invention that has been putting some teachers out of jobs is the recent interest in the Rosetta Stone software company. In contrast to the typical foreign language classroom where teachers exercise rote drills, Rosetta Stone is a program that focuses on immersing the learner in the language rather than merely exposing them to it. This technique is said to be taught in such a fashion where learners are taught in a manner similar to learning a first language. It is supposed to be highly effective in teaching learners the language quickly. Moreover, unlike trained foreign language teachers who typically specialize in one additional language, Rosetta Stone offers learners a great variety. It offers over thirty different options. In a country where the population is becoming more and more diverse, multilingualism is becoming increasingly desirable. Why not teach in this way if it is more effective? Unfortunately, I'm sure many foreign language teachers are cringing at the thought of no longer being considered a true professional. What happens when your students can now learn as much as you in a matter of weeks or months? All those years of schooling suddenly seem like a waste.

Although I do not foresee the teaching profession as becoming obsolete any time soon (if ever), I do think that it is important for us to stay in touch with the new technologies around us. Education does change with new technology. As a nation, we are constantly obsessing over how to make things more efficient, and the education system might one day undergo such changes (indeed, it has undergone such changes: for instance few teachers teach shorthand anymore but have been replaced by computer teachers). However, I do think that our education system will adapt with technology rather than being displaced by it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your statement that the teaching profession will not become obsolete any time soon or if ever because there is value in the classroom that you cannot get from a computer. Think about how much you get out of discussion with your peers, a computer will not give you that same ability to discuss with others. There is something about being in a classroom that fosters discussion and learning that is too valuable to be lost. Yes, a foreign language can be picked up in a short time through Rosetta Stone, but how much are those people really learning? I would argue that people are learning how to regurgitate information rather than really ingesting it like you would over years of learning from a teacher.