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Image credit: Annette Wamser from Elk Grove, USA (DSC_1747E2rs) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Learning to be Robots?

Two things caught my eye this week – did you see them too?

The first was an ad in the TES from a school in London that is seeking a Detention Director.

Do you, the ad begins, like order and discipline? Believe in children being obedient every time?

When I last looked online, TES was saying that just under 2,000 people had looked at the ad in the previous 24 hours, not all I presume in disbelief. Let us hope that they find the person they are seeking.

[It put me in mind of an advert I once placed in the TES, albeit accidentally! At the time we were looking to appoint a couple of teachers to act as permanent supply staff. Their subject specialism was not important, and so we placed the ad seeking ‘teachers of any discipline’. The copywriter missed the ‘any’ out, and the ad read ‘teachers of discipline’. We got some interesting replies to that one!!] 

Link to TES ad.

The second thing was an article in The Guardian entitled ‘In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant’ by George Monbiot.

The article begins:

“In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?

Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity. So why are they dragooned into rows and made to sit still while they are stuffed with facts?”

And ends with:

“Let’s engineer our children out of the factory and into the real world”.

To read the whole article, which also is scathing about the Detention Director ad, click here.

Two fundamentally different views of the purpose of education and how we meet the needs of children in our care. The problem may well lie in the word education, and its somewhat confused origins.

There are two different Latin roots of the English word “education.” They are “educare,” which means to train or to mold, and “educere,” meaning to lead out. While the two meanings are quite different, they are both represented in the word “education.” Thus, there is an etymological basis for many of the vociferous debates about education today. The opposing sides often use the same word to denote two very different concepts. One side uses education to mean the preservation and passing down of knowledge and the shaping of youths in the image of their parents. The other side sees education as preparing a new generation for the changes that are to come–readying them to create solutions to problems yet unknown. One calls for rote memorization and becoming good workers. The other requires questioning, thinking, and creating. To further complicate matters, some groups expect schooling to fulfill both functions, but allow only those activities promoting educare to be used.

I guess it all comes down to how we tread the path between educare and educere.

Meanwhile, I’m off to polish my cv in preparation for my application to become Detention Director. Wonder if there is a uniform? I bet there is.

Ps – only joking!


Image credit: Annette Wamser from Elk Grove, USA (DSC_1747E2rs) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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