Education International
Education International

The importance of teachers and the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution

published 22 January 2016 updated 25 January 2016

While all the talk and excitement in Davos is focused on the next industrial revolution, the key to quality education remains living, breathing classroom teachers, despite of all the digital hype.

According to the experts at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the world is about to experience what is being hailed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Predictions are that this next stage in societal development will see artificial intelligence, or robots, take the place of humans at work.

Education International (EI) General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, in Davos for the summit, couldn’t help but question what a robot-run world would mean for generating jobs for humans, especially when it comes to education.

"The educator of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Wishful thinking of some education businesses but highly unlikely,” he remarked while visiting a robotics exhibition. “Robots and new technology are increasingly deployed to help educators improve teaching and learning, but nothing can replace a teacher.”

Although technology is a reality in today’s classroom, the often used term “21st Century Learning” -which puts the emphasis on technological innovation over the pedagogical practice that includes critical thinking, creativity and logic – fails to acknowledge the most important part of quality learning: the teaching profession.

When it comes to the use of information communication technologies, or ICTs, EI fully supports their inclusion in the classroom to enhance the quality of education in line with the requirements in the curriculum. However, ICTs should never replace the relationship between the learner and teacher, and all teachers should be properly trained and consulted on their use.