My son needed constant reassurance and positive feedbacks from his Chemistry teacher when he was struggling in the subject.

He was then in his senior secondary class facing the very crucial Board Examinations. His Chemistry teacher held his hands constantly and guided him through pitfalls in the examination and my son came out with flying colours. If I were to advice the programmers of robot teachers, my first advice would be to add emotions and feelings – the most human facet of humans.

Much has been spoken about the use of robot teachers. They are sturdy, never fall sick or get irritated, never have a ‘bad’ day, are consistent – all reflections of how they are programmed. They do not have the negative human feelings of pain, sadness and tiredness. Robots can also be programmed to facilitate differentiated teaching, which is a bit of a challenge in regular teaching scenarios. These are the qualities of a well programmed robot teachers. All said and done Robots are programmed and custom made. They are programmed by human brains. Every human is unique in the sense that they react in different ways to the same situation. Robots are programmed to do things in a certain way and they cannot adapt their behavior to people or situations. They behave the way their programmers behave. Human teachers have the tact and technique to adapt.

Life skills and values can be ‘caught’ and not ‘taught’. As a teacher of English, I get ample opportunity in my classrooms to seamlessly inculcate values like honesty, patriotism, psychological competency, inter personal skills and such other things to make my students ready to cope with the roller coaster of emotions that they would face in their lives. I would like the robot teachers to be programmed to grab every opportunity to make their students an emotionally well balanced ‘human’.

Even though today’s youngsters seem to be more attached to their gadgets and say that they would ‘love’ to be taught by robots, who will they turn to at the time of need? Will they be able to consider a robot teacher a friend? Teachers are not just teachers. They are more than teachers. Teachers play multiple roles - friends, guides, facilitators and counselors. In short they are ‘in loco parentis’. Can robot teachers be programmed to be this or will they be just emotionless teachers? Human interaction is what humans need. In formative as well as adolescent years our children need humans not humanoids.

This discussion and debate is never ending. The initial novelty may add charm to the robot teachers. But the final hurrah will always be for human teachers. Human teachers assisted by robot teachers can bring a revolution to education. In conclusion, the programmers of robot teachers would definitely find it hard to satisfy me as a consultant and advisor.

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