Robots to replace teachers in 50 years, 11-year-olds predict

17th March 2016 at 00:01
teachers to be replaced by robots
The Year 7 pupils made the prophecy in a Girls Schools' Association poll

Girls taking part in a survey were asked what jobs they thought robots would be doing in 2066, and "replacing or helping teachers in the classroom" was the fourth most popular choice alongside "helping with homework".

The 1,300 pupils surveyed – all 11 and 12-year-olds attending private schools belonging to the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) – also thought robots would be performing humanitarian, caring and medical roles, and working as drivers, journalists and shop assistants.

The poll comes just days after another survey found that teaching was the first-choice profession for a fifth of teenagers.

Man or machine?

Talia, a pupil at Channing School in London, evoked a scenario that some teachers might already recognise after a long day.

"I think they will look like humans on the outside but are a piece of machinery on the inside," she said. "They will have built-in feelings for whan a child is upset about something. They will also be good at telling off if needed.

"They will know the answer to everything because they will have Google inside their heads."

She added that the teachers would have "very good fashion sense" and children would look up to them because they would be "so kind and friendly".

"I think they will also have a great sense of humour," Talia continued. "Their voice will be tuned to a human voice and they won’t just smile with their mouth, they will also smile with their eyes."

Caroline Jordan, president of the GSA, said asking what robots would be doing in the future was "a great way to stimulate pupils’ thinking around philosophy, economics, design and moral issues as well as the science itself".

Teachers under pressure

The survey comes after educational commentators have complained that teachers are already becoming like machines as a result of heavy workload and the pressures of Ofsted and high-stakes testing.

High-tech interventions in the classroom, including in-ear remote coaching, have been accused of making teachers "more like robots".

And in December, an Australian study found that computer software was equal to humans in marking essays.

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