Picture a student working on some quadratic equations in class. Now, it would be easy (and definitely very tempting) for them to simply look up the answer on the internet. Imagine that they do, and they get full marks for their assignment: well, what have they gained? Nothing. A more old-fashioned example might be using a calculator instead of figuring it out for yourself.
What teachers provide is understanding. By far the most important thing in Maths is to understand the underlying mechanism of a formula or function, and this is where a human teacher runs rings around a computer. When you don’t understand something, it’s difficult to put it into words, so teachers are often faced with questions like: ‘But why does… This… Do… That… Instead of… I don’t know!’
A teacher might understand that pupil’s struggle, but Siri definitely wouldn’t. A virtual learning environment is useless without a teacher to guide pupils through it.
Teachers play a guiding role
Everybody knows you can find almost any answer to any question on the internet. But sites like Wikipedia are a great example of how, sometimes, untruths and errors can be presented as fact. Perhaps even more importantly, the internet is so full of information that it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and understand what we need to know and what isn’t so important.
We need teachers to guide pupils to understand how to use sources, and how to tell something useful from something less relevant. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to get lost in white noise.
Teaching is more than just informing pupils of facts
In the olden-days, pupils used to learn by rote. Slowly but surely over the last thirty or forty years, we concluded that that was suboptimal approach. But in a classroom without teachers, we put ourselves at risk of falling back on an inhuman, learning-by-numbers system of learning.
Teaching is more than learning facts, and teachers are more than teachers: they’re people. Take teachers out of the classroom and we lose the human side of learning. Almost everyone has great memories of school: old friends, fun times and inspiring teachers. Who would want to take that away?