“Why don’t we have both?”
We’ve heard many things from folks since we publicly launched ADRABA on August 15. Much of the feedback has been positive and supportive. Some has been critical – yet constructive.
The most trenchant critique we heard is that ADRABA’s embrace of blended learning is bad for teachers. By looking to tech as the engine and tool for learning, we are destroying a noble profession.
Though we are not replacing teachers with robots, the critics say, online learning is tantamount to that. So, the critics say, we have to choose: teachers or tech?
But do we though?
Partisans are quick to set up the “either/or” to sharpen the issue. But presenting this issue as a choice between black and white is a common logical fallacy that is easily resolved. As the Old El Paso girl observed: “Why don’t we have both?”
Artificial intelligence has made great leaps and bounds in the last five years. Though Google tends to be snappier and more responsive than Siri, AI is not replacing a person anytime soon in the classroom.
The most valued and secure professions will require complex social skills. Teaching, as much as it is about conveying content, also involves complex social interactions. Good teachers are not just information-pushers. They are role models for their students. They coach. They mentor. Jewish educators bring an ancient tradition into the present day and breathe new life into it, making thousand year old texts relevant and meaningful. They help students frame the questions that spark interest and engagement with real-world problems.
Technology can dispense information more efficiently. They can mark multiple choice quizzes faster than humans. However, computers cannot provide insight and feedback on critical thinking, communication and leadership the way a person can.
In the hands of an experienced teacher, technology can extend and improve instruction. By substituting technology for certain teaching and bureaucratic tasks, schools can better serve all students by personalizing learning. Under the current factory-based educational regime, there isn’t enough time in the day for teachers to give all their students the individualized feedback and coaching they need. When students are able to get foundational knowledge and skills through technology-based instruction, teachers can dedicate more time to providing expert feedback on higher-order skills and tackling complex, real-world problems.
However, sometimes, it’s not the tech that’s the problem. Sometimes, it’s the teachers themselves, especially the ones entrenched in the factory-based industrial model. How many times have experienced teachers concern-trolled that it’s too dangerous to give students “too much autonomy” to choose their own learning path?
At ADRABA, we’re recruiting a cohort of teachers open to new instructional models and the need for change. We will give them ample opportunities to experiment with new approaches and iterate on what they learn – just like the kids!
ADRABA is designed from the ground up for all learners, teen and adult, always focused on what learners need, asking them, observing them, defining the problem with them then coming up with as many possible ideas and solutions together, narrowing down to one, trying it, possibly failing, then rinsing and repeating.
We can do this with tech.
We can do this because of tech.
But most importantly, we cannot do it without teachers.