Where is Exploration, Empowerment, and Play in our schools? I’m reading Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner right now and, as always, his book inspires me to be curious about my leadership.  Very often we read books that give us recommendations about what we should be looking for in our classrooms and that is all very Read More →

As Erin and I stated in our 1st blog post, Staying Curious for Each Other, we want to take this space to stay curious and learn from the great educators around us.  So as we open ourselves up for new learning it is amazing how quickly it comes at us. As Tony Schwartz so eloquently Read More →

Today I am wondering about a page I read from Richard Allington’s book, What Really Matters in Response to Intervention.  Chapter 1 is titled “Why Struggling Readers Continue to Struggle” and the captivating sentence on the page reads…“Most struggling readers never catch up with their higher-achieving classmates because schools create school days for them where Read More →

Are we using formative assessment as a viable teaching tool?  This is my wondering today. This topic sparked an interest in me during the past month as I was able to talk with several new teachers and ask them how they have used formative assessment to guide their instruction.  I was a bit surprised with Read More →

Does curiosity pay off?  How can we assure that by staying curious about our students and about our profession that we will continue to meet the rigorous standards set forth by the state and the federal government? In this day of education it is all about showing growth with students and making sure all children Read More →


Shelley really started something with our conversation around Leading Curiosity vs. The Guide on the Side – Part 1.  I’m curious about the future of public education for our students.  Will the American classroom be recognizable in 10-15 years?  If not, will that be a bad thing?  Where might we choose to proceed with caution?

Have you heard of the “uncanny valley“?  It describes the natural reaction of disgust and even primal fear we experience when we interact with a robot that was created to look and move like a real human.  Technology is so advanced that robotics engineers can almost convince us that their creations ARE humans… almost.  We become uncomfortable because the robots or CGI characters look human, but on second glance we know that they are not quite right.  That stirs up discomfort in us.  They creep us out to our core and we can’t quite explain it.

But wait… it isn’t logical.

They are only robots and movie characters.

There is no immediate danger.

Nonetheless, this is a very real biological human reaction.

Our humanity says, “This is not good.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.”

Are there some details within the speed of our changing educational system that your humanity sometimes questions as well?  It is hard to specify why we feel weird at first, yet, there it is – creeping us out to the core.

How does the uncanny valley apply to the conversation about “Leading Curiosity vs. The Guide on the Side”?   And isn’t being a “guide on the side” a desireable thing, often juxtaposed with being the “sage on the stage”?

I’m wondering if the “guide on the side” concept (one of a class monitor instead of a professional teacher) as Shelley described in Part 1 feels like the uncanny valley of education to me because it is ALMOST teaching… but not quite.  It is ALMOST what our children deserve (differentiation, learning from the best online resources)… but not quite ALL they need (like the humanity of real teachers who lead through relationships, using their craft to innovate, driving inquiry).  And this is especially uncanny to me if the “guide” is a virtual teacher or the mode is a prescriptive learning path via technology for the majority of a child’s day.  I haven’t seen this yet first hand, but it feels like it is coming.

My humanity as a parent says, “This is not quite right.  I’m afraid.  I’m very afraid.”

There is nothing wrong inherently with virtual learning, individualized tech-enhanced instruction and the like.  It is logical that we would capitalize on virtual teacher collaboration and use our regularly doubling collective information bank that is the vast internet.  This is all good practice… until it gets creepy…

…creepy like Asimov’s future computerized teachers in “The Fun They Had” (1964) which he prophesied to be housed in children’s bedrooms, replacing those ancient schools where kids actually went to the same building and learned and played together.

Now right there I just tumbled into the valley.  For me, it is simply not okay to think about losing the social, inquisitive, collaborative nature of schools – where the HUMAN local teacher is the expert on students’ needs.  Extinguishing that norm would be going too far!

“Tell it to me in Star Wars.” you say?

check out this video…

“I’m scared!   Get me outa there!”  

“You’re in the valley now.  And it’s impossible to get out.”  Thank you, “30 Rock”/NBC Universal… you get me. 🙂

Back to reality… how close are we to losing schools as we know it?  As David Theune commented in the previous post, where is our noble profession heading?

I wonder how long we, as a society, will value an educational system that relies on the humanity and craft of professionals to best meet our children at their individual points of need?  Don’t our kids deserve this?  It feels like anything less will be a compromise on the backs of our children and, in turn, a cost to our society.

How might we proceed with caution?


Comment and share your thoughts!

What crosses over into the uncanny valley for you when you think of our brave new world to come?


And if this is particularly interesting to you, give this recent NY Times article a read!  Other professional fields have been wondering similar things.   http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/20/opinion/why-robots-will-always-need-us.html?_r=0






  Is the teaching profession in danger of extinction? Professionals today are saying that in 10-15 years the role of teacher as we know it may cease to exist. (Michael Godsey) In its place would be a “guide” who would answer tech questions and troubleshoot problems. Other than that, there is no need for a teacher Read More →