For dinner, my wife and I will sometimes get frozen pizza from the grocery store, and put a ton of vegetables on it. So we can tell ourselves it’s healthy and that we’re allowed to drink beer on a Tuesday night.
Don’t judge me.
Tonight, I diced vegetables while my wife bathed our baby.
Our conversation went like this:
Vaudrey: How hot is the oven for this pizza?
Wife (from the bathroom): What?
Vaudrey: How hot does the oven have to be?
Wife: It says on the box.
Vaudrey: I already recycled the box, and I don’t want to dig it up, I just want you to tell m–
I froze mid-sentence.
Oh, God. I thought. I have become my students.
How am I any different from them when they ask me the myriad of silly questions, to which, they could find the answer?
“What page does this go on?”
“How do I factor a difference of two squares?”
“What’s five times eight?”
“What page does this go on? I forgot already.”
In recent years, websites like Khan Academy and MathTV have sprung up, hosting hundreds of videos to explain Math to students in their own home. The sites are met with resistance and gnashing of teeth from teachers, who don’t want our jobs outsourced to the internet. I’ve never been worried.
My discussion with my wife is why online courses will never replace the classroom for adolescents. The most efficient content-delivery system in the world cannot reproduce relationships. Students come to my class for the math, but they stay because conversation is how they build a framework to understand the world.
I finish with a quote from Sugata Mitra:
“A teacher who can be replaced by a computer should be.”
Sleep well, knowing your job is secure.