When Class Is Run by a Robot

The first “teaching machine” was invented nearly a century ago by Sydney Pressey, a psychologist at Ohio University, out of spare typewriter parts. The device was simple, presenting the user with a multiple-choice question and a set of answers. In “teach mode,” the machine would advance to the next question only once the user chose the correct answer. Pressey declared that his invention marked the beginning of “the industrial revolution in education”—but despite his grand claims, the teaching machine failed to gain much attention, and soon faded into obscurity.

It stayed there until the 1950s, when the famed behaviorist B.F. Skinner introduced a teaching machine of his own (Skinner blamed “cultural inertia” for Pressey’s previous lack of success). His new device taught by showing students questions one at a time, with the idea that the user would be rewarded for each right answer.

  • canminuteman

    When class is run by a robot, let that robot be Robocop. It can blast any little bastard who steps out of line.

    Or better yet, lets just get rid of public education. You are never going to teach those who have no interest in learning, and those who do have an interest can educate themselves in private schools. home schools, on line, or in community schools run by parent volunteers. At my kids school most of the parents are better educated and smarter than the teachers are.

    I remember reading somewhere that there was a higher literacy rate in the New England states before they had public education than there is now, So why are we spending billions of dollars a year on negative results.

    • Xavier

      It would be interesting to correlate school performance with class size and integration. But you’d probably be arrested for doing so.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        When growing up, ALL of my classes were over 30 pupils.
        We all learned and there were no disruptions, if you misbehaved you got the paddle. Unruly or disrespectful behavior was unthinkable, with our only weakness being our lack of diversity.
        We were also the children of highly educated aerospace engineers.

        • Xavier

          Lack of diversity is a weakness?

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            We were denied cultural enrichment.

            Funny story.
            We did not have lockable areas to store our personal items, we just left whatever assorted treasures we had accumulated as elementary students (candy, a weeks worth of lunch money, cool markers, erasers, protractors… whatever), in our lift-top desks.
            Nothing was ever stolen.
            I never had anything stolen from me in school until high school, and that was only once.

          • canminuteman

            Back when I lived in barracks as an army lieutenant I remember a ten dollar bill that someone found in the dryer and put on top of the dryer for the owner to retrieve. it sat there for a few weeks then migrated to getting pinned to a bulletin board. It stayed there for months before one of my comrades started a Christmas collection to buy gifts for the women who cleaned our rooms for us. (Yes, once we got out of training with all its silly early morning kit inspections we had staff who cleaned our barracks for us). On mutual agreement that ten dollar bill got added to the pot.

          • Drunk_by_Noon

            We should send our stories of privileged oppression to a professor of “Whiteness Studies” at Ithaca College.

      • canminuteman

        Some people care about education, some don’t. My children would be as well educated as they are whether they went to school or not. We taught them how to read, we thought them how to do math, and we gave them a sense of curiosity, so that now they know how to read, they learn things on their own when they find something that interests them. Most people are like this. Once you have developed a strong confident civilization it passes itself on. Unfortunately, once you have created the first generation of idiots, that is what gets passed on.

        • Drunk_by_Noon

          My dad did the same thing.
          Consequently I knew the difference between fission and fusion and basic orbital mechanics by the third grade.
          No really, I did.

  • politicallynaive

    They already are..it is called Left wing teachers with an agenda////

  • Xavier

    You think people are against Common Core? This will trigger the revolution.

  • Tokenn

    Public education is destroying itself even as we speak. AI administrated teaching programs over the Net will make public education obsolete in a decade or two.