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Chapter Eight: Middle Childhood

Section 4: Teaching Machines


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Filipina Dance by the Baranga Dance Company at the Filipino Heritage Festival, Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose, CA, on Sunday, August 2, 1998.


Since technology is one of the areas the future human must master, it makes sense to give children an opportunity to experiment with machines. Many types might be appropriate -- communications equipment, calculators, video games, and even microcomputers. Teaching machines can serve a dual purpose. They can expose children to technology -- helping learn machine interface skills. They can often do a better job than a human in providing individually paced programmed learning of rote skills and knowledge.


Some technophobes and humanists object to teaching machines because they tend to dehumanize the learning process. There is no question that human interaction is crucial to education. The question is whether human interaction during rote learning is valuable. It is probably worse to interact with a human machine than an electronic machine, especially when the latter does a better job. The purpose of the teaching machine is not to replace the human teacher, but to allow the latter to concentrate on areas which are more uniquely human -- social skills and attitudes such as empathy, compassion, self-awareness and so forth.






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