For Instance & The Role of the Teacher

A discussion of computers and the transformation of education and what happens in and beyond the classroom touches upon the role of the teacher.

Mon, October 21, 1996
Humanist: 10.0351 forwards Meme 2.13 (Seymour Papert interviewed by David S. Bennahum)


MEME 2.13

In this issue:

o School’s Out? A conversation with Seymour Papert.


DB: But isn’t there a role for teachers in telling truth, especially in history. History can be seen as a mass of interpretation, and the teacher is essential, more than in math or science, in pointing in the right direction. For instance the moral consequences of a war, or of genocide. If you go on the Net searching for answers you could stumble across information whose purpose was not truth but a political agenda. How then could you filter? Who would be the trusted authority? For instance if you had to research the Nazi Holocaust and you came across a White Supremacist site that denied the existence of the Holocaust, how could a kid know this was an outright lie?

SP: I am not advocating spontaneous uncontrolled learning. I think as a society we have an obligation to pass on values. I think this is an important function. I am sure there will be professionals dealing with kids who will do this. But that is a very different function from the traditional teaching function. This future teacher is acting like an advisor, maybe more like a faculty advisor in a university.

DB: So these people are still with us. We might call them advisors or coaches, but not teachers.

SP: Teacher has this other function. When you think of a religious teacher — Buddha was a teacher. He was not a teacher in terms of giving assignments or grading papers. He was a teacher in the sense that defended ideas and cultivated them, and set an example for people. That is more like the role model of teacher I am thinking of for kids today.

No pressure.

And so for day 2654

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