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September 15, 2020 10:58 pm Published by

Technology is a trickster, and one impossible to avoid or evade.

It has burrowed its way so deeply into our lives that escape seems out of the question.

Look at a 1950s movie, and computers (always a mainframe, in a glassed-off room, like a shrine) are monstrous, with whirring reels and flashing lights.

Nobody would have guessed the way that microchips would have infiltrated every part of our daily lives, from the kitchen to the automobile …

… rendering absurd any fanciful, quaint notion of “privacy”.

And now computers even threaten to invade our very bodies. Are you chipped? Do you want to “chip your child”? Funny question. Maybe not so funny five years from now.

First the pets – then the owners.                

But how about education? Around the world, schools have come under close criticism, for being out of touch, overly expensive, and worst of all failing to prepare students for an increasingly-difficult job market.

What you learned in Information Technology classes at university in 1995 is all but useless today – and as for 1985? Ancient history, of use to no one but specialists. Remember the era of no internet?

Here’s a tipoff: teacher thinks she is very smart, basing her lesson plan around a snazzy PowerPoint presentation. Class starts and the program won’t load… the projector won’t turn on… the program keeps hanging…  

…and a student very politely steps up to fix the problem, as the rest of the class watches the teacher, humiliated, helpless. Hey, teach is 45 years old. That is paleolithic. She didn’t grow up with a mobile phone stuck to her ear, or a tablet adhering to her face.

What’s fascinating now is that live teachers and live classes in old-fashioned classrooms are in danger of becoming obsolete, thanks to the sinister virus.

Mandated “study-at-home” – because of the Cootie-19 pandemic – is just one step further in the process of technology educating young people without human interaction. Think about it for a second: the enormity, convenience and speed of the internet is such that anything you want to know about is available, immediately, for free – but maybe not true, ethical or complete. Doesn’t matter – look somewhere else for something else.

Will the teacher become obsolete, in the “learn-at-home” era? Are they not obsolete already? Someone who has not been working in marketing, distribution, commercial surveillance, product design yadda yadda for ten years because they’ve been teaching it a university is completely out of touch – and cannot prepare students to be ready to step into jobs requiring such leading-edge knowledge.

Leaving my school building the other day, I had an unexpected realization: Perhaps a computer was a more effective teacher than I currently was. The thought unnerved me, and still does as I’m writing this. I’m a nearly 13-year veteran educator dedicated to reflecting upon and refining my teaching craft. But I’m now considering the real possibility that, for at least part of a class period or school day, a computer could—and maybe should—replace me.

This fascinating article in The Atlantic tips you off to the not-unusual fear among instructors that their meaningful role in life is quickly becoming as useless as the ice-cream-cone vendor or cashier.


What is not obsolete and will never be out of fashion is the kind of tasty, beautiful, hygienic and healthful food served at Ya Udah Bistro – alas, for the moment, not for sit-down patrons in Menteng, as the recently-imposed PSBB “social distancing” in Jakarta DKI means that you can only order takeout / takeaway from us here.

The Serpong outlet is serving both dine-in and take-away trade, as usual.

Share your thoughts on the potential peril of technology bumping traditional education out of the window – we’d love to read your comments below.


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