Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates claims that artificial intelligence (AI) can be just as effective as human tutors. However, there are several reasons why this assertion is incorrect. During a discussion on the “Unconfuse Me” podcast, Mr. Gates and Khan Academy CEO Sal Khan discussed the potential of chatbots in education to facilitate breakout sessions and guide students. As a teacher with experience at various educational levels, I can confidently say that these comments demonstrate a lack of understanding of face-to-face teaching.
Implementing breakout sessions through chatbots would be challenging if not impossible. In a traditional classroom setting, students require discipline and the presence of an authoritative figure to encourage active participation. Most students would not comply with a chatbot in the absence of human enforcement. Without guidance, they would likely resort to using their phones or other distractions instead of engaging with the lessons.
While discipline plays a crucial role in the classroom, building students’ confidence is even more essential. Students who possess confidence are more likely to succeed as they are unburdened by the fear of failure. Confidence also fosters regular attendance and completion of assignments. Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between academic success and confidence.
Building students’ confidence is evident in activities such as presenting to the class. Public speaking is a valuable life skill that is applicable in various situations. Many students struggle with public speaking and avoid participating altogether. However, through continuous effort and incremental confidence-building, I have witnessed anxious students overcome their fears and excel at presenting. This is an achievement that cannot be replicated by a chatbot or AI.
Furthermore, learning thrives in environments where a positive teacher-student relationship exists. The human connection found in classrooms is irreplaceable. As a teacher, understanding students’ interests and incorporating them into lessons is pivotal for stimulating their desire to learn. This approach ensures that students feel supported and encouraged in their educational journey. When teachers believe in their students and set high expectations, learners gain confidence and become more willing to take intellectual risks. AI teaching will never be able to replicate this important dynamic.
Teachers possess the ability to adapt their teaching methods to suit individual students. They not only impart knowledge from the curriculum but also instill values and life skills through group work, presentations, and critical thinking exercises. Teaching goes beyond the mere transfer of information; it involves creating an environment conducive to learning, fostering confidence, and inspiring students to excel.
The use of technology in education may also exacerbate the problem of misinformation by creating echo chambers. Students should cultivate the ability to engage in peaceful debates with those holding different opinions rather than resorting to personal attacks. Social media platforms often lack constructive debates and instead foster hostility when faced with dissenting views. In a classroom setting, where students directly interact with individuals they disagree with, they are more likely to avoid conflicts and engage in critical thinking. Once again, this is a skill that AI struggles to achieve.
The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of human contact in education. The prolonged period of online learning resulted in a significant deficit in behavioral learning development. Even Mr. Gates acknowledged the value of the social experience in his podcast, emphasizing that he had underestimated its importance for most students.
In conclusion, while AI may have its uses in education, it cannot replace the essential role of human teachers. Face-to-face teaching not only provides discipline and guidance but also fosters confidence, builds relationships, promotes critical thinking, and encourages respectful debates.