October is the month we celebrate World Teachers Day. However two recent articles I read failed to highlight the amazing work of teachers or value them for the important role they play, but rather focused on the future extinction of male teachers and the eventual replacement of all teachers by robots.
A Macquarie University Study reported that the current decline rate of male teachers from 1956 to 2016 will escalate to the projected conclusion of zero male teachers by the year 2067.
While previous studies suggest that the reasons such as low salary, low status of the teaching profession and even negative perceptions of men who choose to teach young children may be driving men away from the teaching profession, the authors argue that the observed imbalance is also likely to limit the way in which children view men in professional contexts.
The study quotes that “potential implications of the findings are that current school students may have a limited opportunity to observe men outside of their families who are caring, nurturing or concerned about education. This may lead children to assume that only women are suited for work involving children or that caring traits are atypical in men.”
We may not even need to worry about this as an article recently written in the Telegraph quotes Sir Anthony Selden, Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham as saying,
“intelligent machines that adapt to suit the learning styles of individual children will soon render traditional academic teaching all but redundant in the next ten years.”
Programs are being developed in Silicon Valley that will read the brains and facial expressions of pupils, adapting the method of communication to what works best for them.
In a month where we should thank and celebrate teachers, I choose to focus on something slightly different from the two articles mentioned above. I choose to celebrate the work of our male teachers including those who have signed up this month to the Polished Man Campaign, teaching our students that a strong man stands up against violence. That men can value children and women and that education is vital for their futures.
I choose to focus on the positive relationship teachers build with their pupils. Not just the communication of curriculum through technology but the time spent coaching them through the difficult and complicated issues of life. Helping children to develop friendships with their peers, developing resilience in them, teaching them to be respectful, compassionate and honouring of others and ultimately giving them hope for the future. These are characteristics that robots do not have.
Our teachers here at Cedars exhibit these characteristics daily. You only had to listen to the speeches from our College Captains at the Year 12 Graduation and Formal to understand how much our outgoing students have appreciated their teachers over the years. Or listen to the teachers as they spoke about these students with tears in their eyes, and two teachers who even dedicated a song and sang to these students.
I realise that World Teachers Day is not as highly recognised or celebrated as other significant dates on our calendars, but I encourage you to take the opportunity this month to think about teachers you had growing up and thank the teachers who are currently in your lives or those of your children’s. Our teachers do an amazing job and I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to be surrounded by them.