Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Luke, you switched off your targeting computer."

I am sad to say that apparently Bill Gates missed one of the central points of Star Wars. 
In his keynote presentation on education at the South by Southwest Conference, Gates was touting the use of computers to personalize learning and, incidentally, to cut down on the need for teachers. He chose to use the following example:
Displaying a picture of Star Wars'Luke Skywalker crouched next to Yoda, Gates spoke about the importance of personalized learning. Yoda was a great teacher, Gates argued, because the Jedi master understood when Skywalker is losing interest. you would expect a great teacher to do.
One of the central points of Star Wars, however, is that over-reliance on technology is a failed methodology. Luke Skywalker doesn't blow up the Death Start with his targeting computer; he uses the Force.
I don't want to torment this analogy too far, but Yoda didn't plunk Luke down in front of a computer to teach him; he did it himself.
Technology has its place, but teaching people takes people.

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