Teacher versus technology – The statesman
While recommending blended learning (BL) in higher education institutions in a recently released concept paper, the University Grants Commission (UGC) called on teachers to act as a coach and mentor for students. BL has been described by it as a well-planned combination of meaningful activities merging online and face-to-face mode. Blending requires consideration of several factors, focusing primarily on learning outcomes and the learner-centered learning environment.
According to UGC, BL is shifting the role of the teacher from a knowledge provider to that of a coach and mentor and, at the same time, expects teachers to play an active and important role in the education of students. UGC’s belief in putting technology, an essential element, in the driver’s seat and thus undermining the role of teachers in the whole process is sadly misplaced.
A teacher has been guiding students for ages. In ancient Vedic times, teachers orally transferred knowledge to students while ensuring that it was well received through various personalized ways and means. This is a misplaced notion that technology in any way reinforces a teacher as it simply helps teaching as a tool or external help, especially as part of a private coaching institute. It is in no way justified to compare it to university / college education. UGC’s assertion about shifting the role of a teacher from a knowledge provider to that of a coach and mentor is based on a flawed premise when it assumes that BL would help shift the task of teacher knowledge provider to technology.
In the negotiation of mutually known experiences, technology can only be one of the practical means of learning. But when used to convey experiences from one to another who knows nothing of the like, transmission through technology more often than not becomes difficult.
Therefore, it is not wrong to insist that the teacher and the teacher must be perfectly in tune with each other before the teacher’s words can have the necessary impact on students, and nowhere does technology come to the fore in the process.
The use of technology in education can be justified as it develops study material in addition to its electronic transmission to students, which can certainly serve as a catalyst to make the whole process efficient. But in no case can he replace a teacher; a teacher is both an indispensable and critical part of the whole teaching-learning process.
According to the Athenian philosopher Plato, the true nature of education is not to instill knowledge into the minds of students, for all have a faculty that enables them to learn. This faculty must be continuously developed to enable the person to contemplate the real world. Plato, through allegory, observes that the role of teachers is to guide students to change their point of view most often from ignorance or confusion to reality. It requires a teacher to play both the role of knowledge provider and mentor. Technology, according to UGC, seems to be the focal point of all eyes by making the whole learning process faster than Plato’s belief that learners acquire knowledge in stages, and the teaching methodology must follow these steps to guide students.
In the case of a student who is a slow learner, it is imperative that the teacher ~ and certainly not for the technology ~ empathizes and uses their teaching skills and experience to enlighten such a student on the path to progress. Technology has a very limited role to play in such circumstances and teachers alone can correct learners’ mistaken perspectives and lead on the right path by activating their own learning capacities.
According to the Confucian school of thought, the role of teachers is to become role models or present role models that their students could emulate or follow. He further pointed out that teachers change their ideas and behavior whenever these are challenged by students’ ideas during the teaching-learning process, which continually leads to self-cultivation. The role of teachers here is to enable students to grow up to be ideal people. In this process, teachers individualize the teaching methodology to make it understood by each learner.
Confucius advocated evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each learner and modifying the instructions appropriately based on logical analysis. As each student is unique in terms of limitations and merit, the role of a teacher becomes essential in guiding the student to build on their strengths while overcoming their weaknesses through critical examination, which no technology can handle, no matter what. whatever its degree of advancement.
According to the relational theory proposed by author and prolific researcher Martin Buber, establishing direct relationships and continuing efforts to reclaim them are essential for effective teaching. Trust is a factor that plays a crucial role in building relationships. The authoritative transmission of knowledge through technology cannot generate trust; learners develop trust in teachers as they live and interact with them. Buber further insisted on the integration of teaching and counseling functions. Teachers pay attention to students’ difficulties and obstacles and motivate them to overcome obstacles.
Therefore, it is incumbent on teachers to participate in the lives of their students, which technology cannot provide. Additionally, involving teachers helps empathize with students by seeing things from their point of view.
Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire offers another teaching-learning scenario, known as the problematic education system, in which teachers and students share educational content and learn collaboratively through dialogical interaction. In the problematic education system, according to him, it is the teacher who presents the problem, but the teacher and the students teach and learn at the same time by investing it critically together and connecting it to their lives. in real situations. In the process, the two evolve and challenge each other by sharing new perspectives, and constantly reform their opinion and ideas.
Thus, the role of the teacher here becomes that of a co-investigator and collaborator with the students to satisfy the curiosity of the latter. In the whole process, the students are no longer learning machines but become truly human. Teachers give learners the right to disagree with their opinions based on a strong justification. It paves the way for counter-argumentative classrooms and fosters dialogical co-inquiry leading to healthy democratic education. It can be argued here that technology can in no way achieve this.
Rabindranath Tagore also said that teaching and learning should not be a dead cage in which living spirits are fed with artificially prepared foods. Contrary to this popular and well-recognized belief, making the education system technology-driven would be a huge disservice to students in one of the most dynamic democratic settings.
The Gandhian philosophy of education emphasizes the correlation between teaching methods and learning experiences that no intangible static tool such as technology can handle because it lacks human elements of motivation, compassion and kindness that only a teacher can provide.
The role of education, according to the eminent pedagogue and philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, is to build wisdom and humanity in the hearts and minds of learners, without which all of its professional, scientific and technological achievements would have no effect. sense. As education is nothing less than an enlightenment that dispels ignorance and enlightens the individual, only teachers can provide an enabling environment full of enthusiasm, warmth and caring support for students, which none technology has so far only been able to provide.