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Education machines

A strange, invisible and almost mystical aura permeates the classroom. It’s contagious or airborne because those children who would normally chat, wander and otherwise disrupt will spontaneously begin to do so.

The opposite mystical presence also manifests itself in the schoolroom, but much less often. Children silently or quietly monitor each other, perpetuating a calm, peaceful and textbook classroom environment.

Educating would be much less stressful or behavior-management centered if we could anticipate which force would emerge on any given day. If that were possible, I immediately wonder if we educators would be or could be replaced by robots or teaching machines.

These must be robots who could apply bandages to almost undetectable boo-boos. They would need to be able to console a kindergartner who believes that life ends when Mommy leaves the building. And is it possible to construct an apparatus that could effectively intervene in an outbreak of bullying?

This must also be an automaton capable of identifying varying skill levels in a class. Those who finish math problems in minutes require as much encouragement and time as those who struggle with basic addition and subtraction. The education machine must be engaging, responsive and wise on all subjects.

Perhaps this analysis suggests that I needn’t worry about job security. The pervasive humanity that I observe in classrooms indicates that the majority of us aren’t anguishing over being replaced by mechanisms. It absolutely serves as a reminder that every child is entitled to attention, personalization and respect. Shalom.

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