Automated Education

Come to me, O ye children!
And whisper in my ear
What the birds and the winds are singing
In your sunny atmosphere.

For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books,
When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks?

Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems,
And all the rest are dead.

: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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I came across this interesting site about Esperanza, a company providing pre-school and childcare services. The site tells us that

 Esperanza believes in delivering quality results with a strong dependency on latest technology and automated solutions.

Starting with the child’s attendance-

Attendance is monitored by RFID or tag scanners and online attendance update on the website…

Nutrition-

Child’s food intake is monitored and entered into the system each day…

And other activities-

DAR Daily Activity Report is updated every day on the website. DAR comprises every activity right from learning, playing, sleeping, eating, crying and more.

It encourages parents to

watch your child live from any part of the world through our advanced CCTV systems.

Pre-schooling has certainly evolved!

 I remember sending my children off to Nursery school with small colourful knapsacks containing  tiffin boxes and water-bottles. No doubt that would be considered quite backward today!

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The Japanese have taken automation in schools up to a whole new level. Japanese scientists have developed a robot teacher capable of conducting lessons in class.

While Saya’s creator Professor Hiroshi Kobayashi said the robot’s main purpose was to highlight the joys of technology to children, he also said it would benefit schools suffering from a shortage of human teachers.

Shortage of human teachers is not likely to be a problem in the Indian context. Perhaps in remote areas  this technology would be of use.

However, it is doubtful whether it would be economically and practically viable.

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In South Korea, 29 robots are conducting classes at 21 schools as part of an experimental programme.

These robots are controlled remotely by teachers of English in the Philippines who can see and hear the children via a remote control system.

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I am less than enthusiastic about the rising use of automation in education. Particularly in the case of very young children.

Children are not robots. They should not be made to act like robots.  They should be free to go about their daily activities without being  ‘monitored’ and ‘observed on CCTV’ every second. 

How can emotionless machines take the place of sympathetic teachers who care for children? 

A child’s every waking minute should not be structured. They must have free time to play as they wish, to create stories in their imagination, to scribble and draw as they like.

A child learns while interacting with parents, neighbours, teachers, and other children. 

I feel that to keep a child’s human contact to the minimum and to discourage him from using his imagination is to stunt his development.

What do you think?

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9 thoughts on “Automated Education”

  1. This is too scary, Manju! I thought these types of automation will be prevalent in the next generation. The first step was, conducting classes in some schools via videos, in our generation, rather for our families’ small children. The children also will not have any emotion and might become robot-like! They cannot cross-question the teacher too…no respect for the teacher…it goes on!

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  2. Children today are already slowly becoming little automatons — they play less with other children, and play more online games and activities; they are learning to be more self-centred and less empathetic towards others; they are losing respect for elders and teachers and think it is the ‘in’ thing to be smart-mouthed. If on top of all these, they also are taught by robots and remote teachers, it is the best recipe for disaster. I am forced to act the gen x and say, ‘What is the world coming to!’

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  3. You know, I still remember my nursery school teacher, 55 years later. And also so many of my primary school teachers. I fell richer for having been taught my basics by them . I wonder what these automated educated children will remember . While scientists are still learning about how uniquely and finely the brain handles emotion and sensitivity, we are in a big hurry to drag all emotion out of teaching. You think we will ever see a robot with tears in his eyes, after watching a child who wouldnt write or draw make and present a birthday card to it ?

    This is all going too far.

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  4. That is crazy! I wonder if there are any parents who would be comfortable with robots teaching them!

    Emotions, imagination, understanding, are all so important to a young child’s education. When I send my child to school, the fact that the teachers are tuned into her emotions, the fact that they will keep an eye on her – not just how much she eats or how much she knows, but how she reacts, if anything is making her unhappy, are all important. I would probably change schools if the teachers were not as involved.
    Automated education sounds like a joke!

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  5. Seems all of us are on the same page here. 🙂

    Sandhya– Yes it’s like a chain-reaction…

    zephyr – ‘A recipe for disaster’- I’m inclined to agree with you!

    Suranga – Good point about memories. Perhaps memories will have no importance for the future generation…

    Renu– Yes, without the human touch these kids may lose out on ‘humanness’.

    Smitha– I, too, wonder that parents are comfortable with this method of teaching. I’m glad it’s not widespread- at least not yet!

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  6. Children need the human touch. The very presence of a caring teacher can do wonders to their growth. Robots? A very early introduction to this mechanical world.

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