Artificial Light v Candle Bright: Will teachers ever be superceded by technology?

There’s a fear spreading amongst educators that Generation Z, the digital natives who learn to swipe before they learn to write, are more engaged by their devices than they are by a living, breathing, real-life teacher.


With the rise of social media, the prevalence of inexpensive technology, and the minimal attention span of today’s learners- described at today’s PD as twitch span; twitch and their focus shifts- it’s difficult to “sell” the need to pay attention to an old, graphic and whizz bang-free talking mouth in the chair at the front of the room.

Read this article about these students who teach themselves.

But can computers teach manners? Can ipads promote collaboration and effective social skills? Can a gamecube give a student who argued with their younger sibling before school a hug and a pat on the back? Does a laptop have a lap for a toddler to sit on while being read to? And do robots possess enough altruism to consume themselves in order to light the way for others?

While students remain human, there will always be a need for a human to teach them.

For only a person can truly understand another.

And, as Derby, 2011, says “mobile learning devices augment pen and paper learning rather than compete with it.” (p 99)

So our jobs are safe- for now!


  • Derby, B. (2011). Creativity in my pocket: No ‘I’ puns here. English in Australia 46(3)

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