Tech isn’t always the answer

A bombing in Manchester. My son’s PYP Exhibition. Connected or not? Last week both these thing events happened and it really got me thinking. Please read on as this is not a political post. It’s far more significant than that.

The following extract from an article in Fortune (July 2016) really jumped out at me.

The hardest activities to automate with the technologies available today are those that involve managing and developing people (9% automation potential), where expertise is applied to decision-making, planning, or creative work (18%), or interacting with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders (20%). These activities, where experience and age are often an asset, can be as varied as coding software, creating menus, writing promotional materials — or advising customers which color shoes best suit them.

In health care, less than 30% of a registered nurse’s job could be automated, while for dental hygienists, that proportion drops to 13%. Of all the sectors we have examined, among the least susceptible to automation is education. The essence of teaching includes deep expertise and complex interactions with other people for which machines, so far and with few exceptions, receive an incomplete grade.

It was a relief to know that my job is safe for a few more years yet. Expertise and complex interactions are just one aspect of what makes up the incredible profession that is teaching.

The International Baccalaureate’s Learner Profile Attitudes are one of the 5 pillars/elements of the IB Curriculum, along with Action, Key Concepts, Knowledge and Skills.


The definition of attitude is:-

a feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving that is caused by this.

These feelings and behaviour, a bit like the job of teaching, can not be automated. Technology and media can influence them but they can not replace them. As a father and a teacher, these attitudes are more significant than any grade, test or exam to me. When I look at my own children and my students, a grade tells me little or nothing about them. It’s a meaningless letter or number that’s only purpose is to rank children against each other. However, when I see children showing tolerance, empathy, respect and integrity towards each other, to other global citizens and the environment around them, then I get to see clearly into the fabric that makes them.  I get a deep insight into that child and who they are as a person. These traits are essential pieces in the development of positive attitudes toward people, the environment and learning.

The IB Mission is:-

The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

The focus on ‘caring young people and being active compassionate lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right’  highlights the importance of the IB Attitudes and so many of these characteristics were on display at my son’s PYP Exhibition last week.

It is only with these vital attitudes, that our children and the rest of the world will be able to make any sense and learn from the tragic events at the Manchester Arena last Monday night. A university professor once said to me that an attitude is a choice. Sadly, too many people are stuck in their ways and find it difficult to change their choices. It is, therefore, our roles as teachers to ensure that our students remain as open-minded as possible, for as long as possible and in doing so, they are able to choose the right attitudes to guide them through their lives and the challenges they will face in the future.




Add yours →

  1. Hi Dickie,

    Well said. I couldn’t agree more! We have the five essential elements, others might call it ‘character education’ or the ‘hidden curriculum’. Whatever you call it, don’t overlook it. It’s a huge part of our job. For me, if students leave my class without making character progress (not sure what else to call it), I have failed regardless of academic progress.

    As for tech replacing teachers, I say it’ll never happen. Teaching is a complex profession that relies so heavily on human relationships, connections, understanding and mutual respect.

    And finally, Manchester… speechless. Instead of focusing on the cowardly, evil act that one mindless person committed, let’s instead focus on the love, kindness, generosity and bravery that the people of Manchester showed following it.

    Great post! Keep up the good work.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Adam.

      Thanks so much for your reply.
      I like the phrase you have coined with ‘character education’.
      I sincerely wish and hope that this kind of education is pushed more and more centrally
      into the mainstream curriculum.
      I sometimes feel we acknowledge it but we do not place a great enough value on it.
      My goal as an educator is that we develop young people who exhibit these attitudes and related soft skills,
      that will hopefully shape future societies.

      All the best,


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Written so well … had to share it:)


    • Thanks so much for the positive feedback Deirdre.
      Means a lot.
      This was a challenging post to write due to the crossover between personal and professional areas of my life, along with the magnitude of the events in Manchester and everything that is connected to.
      As educators, our goal must always be to develop internationally minded children, whose attitudes guide them to make positive choices in their life, while comprehending that their choices can impact others in many different ways.


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