Is the teaching profession in danger of extinction? Professionals today are saying that in 10-15 years the role of technology-662833_1280teacher 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 because everything students need to know is available to them on the web. Why teach students information when we will have the experts right at our fingertips? I’m curious how this may transform the role of teacher…



Sure, if you view teaching as the delivery of static information, I can see how this might be a fear.  But is that all our teachers do for our students?

Our world is changing.  We are information rich and wisdom poor.  We are fact-filled but lack the capacity to apply the facts to complex thinking.  Our students practice recall, algorithms and strategies but are less able to flexibly problem solve in novel situations.

Teachers teach thinking.  The title of this post is “leading curiosity v. the guide on the side”.  Teachers’ role in this world is to lead curiosity and nurture the inquiry process in our growing learners.  The only way to develop collaborative problem solvers is to actually create collaboration and opportunities to think and innovate – frequently.

That kind of teaching is an absolutely human capacity.  When was the last time a computer or robot was curious about anything?  (Any Issac Asimov readers out there?)

If we define teaching and learning as the opening of a brain and the dumping in of facts and quick-fix strategies, then I guess the computer teacher in “The Fun They Had” (Asimov, 1951) is just fine for our children.  Enjoy (or try not to cry) as you read the prophetic beginning to his short story that first appeared in a children’s magazine 64 years ago…

Margie even wrote about it that night in her diary. On the page headed May 17, 2157, she wrote, “Today, Tommy found a real book!”

It was a very old book. Margie’s grandfather once said that when he was a little boy his grandfather told him that there was a time when all stories were printed on paper.

They turned the pages, which were yellow and crinkly, and it was awfully funny to read words that stood still instead of moving the way they were supposed to–on a screen, you know. And then, when they turned back to the page before, it had the same words on it that it had had when they read it the first time.

“What’s it about?”


Margie was scornful. “School? What’s there to write about school? I hate school.”

Margie always hated school, but now she hated it more than ever. The mechanical teacher had been giving her test after test in geography and she had been doing worse and worse until her mother had shaken her head sorrowfully and sent for the County Inspector….

Yes, this was written 64 years ago.

Or, is it rather about 10-15 years from now?

Or, in a way, is the “mechanical teacher” a reality for our students right now?

What do you wonder about the role of teachers… now,  and for our future as a society?


4 Thoughts on “Leading Curiosity vs. The Guide on the Side – Part 1

  1. Great post! I’ve been saying this for a couple years now: teaching is not giving information; it’s giving experience to USE information. It HAS to move that way; otherwise, we CAN say ‘goodbye’ to our noble profession.

    There are lots of elements that make this challenging, but we have to find meaningful work in which students can use their information.

    Thanks for thinking about this. I hope for more.

  2. Erin Brown on May 26, 2015 at 6:47 pm said:

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, David! With innovators like you leading our students, I can’t imagine many parents would wish for an alternative.

  3. Peter Grostic on May 28, 2015 at 4:47 am said:

    Shelley, this is wonderfully thoughtful. Thanks for being a thought leader!

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