Robot teachers: will they compete or cooperate?

Jorge Calvo, Head of Technology and Innovation at Colegio Europeo de Madrid in Spain, considers what will happen to the role of teachers in an increasing AI world.

Currently, robots carry out 8% of jobs worldwide, a percentage predicted to rise to 26% by 2020. And although we might think otherwise, the teaching profession is ranked 356 out of 366 professions “able to be replaced” by a robot.

Let’s consider this. We find ourselves increasingly integrating technology as a learning tool in the classroom and we use equipment that, whilst lacking in robot heads, arms and legs, still incorporates elements of artificial intelligence or self-learning technology. Therefore, I wonder: are we not already co-habiting with robots in the classroom? From a positive point of view, it is with thanks to these tools and technologies that we’re able to create richer learning experiences for our students.

So, will AI end up replacing us in our classrooms altogether? Most likely the answer is no. The fact that the teaching profession is ranked so low on the scale of professions able to be replaced by robots is due to a simple reason: robots can customise learning in a very precise manner for each individual student and their analysis is practically perfect; however, education is not just this, there is a human skill needed that AI, as of today, cannot deal with.

According to the neuroeducation field, there is an emotional component involved in education that is fundamental for both the teacher and the learner.

Motivated teachers are essential to a child’s educational journey. They are here to share their life experiences and to relate to students from one human to another. They are generator of emotions, needed to get students excited and motivate them in each class they attend.

Students from The British School of Barcelona (BSB) shared their views on this very topic when they took centre stage at last year’s Global Education Leadership Conference in Spain. In agreement with Jorge, Year 13 student, Freya, said: “I think it’s really important that technology doesn’t take over teaching. Teachers are our inspiration and they create the passion within us”. Watch this video for more reflections from the students. 

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