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What Lies Ahead for Teaching and Learning

Four years ago we put together seven quotes to highlight what's just around the corner for teaching and learning

Teachers and school leaders are busy people and often too busy to raise their heads to see what’s around the corner.

Well, what’s around the corner these days has the potential to be very different from what’s been around previous corners and if we don’t raise our eyes we might not see what’s going to hit us.

And by ‘around the corner’ we mean, here already.

Here are seven recent quotes that might give us some idea of where things are going and the part we can play in these changes.


“If we do not change the way we teach, thirty years later we’ll be in big trouble…. We cannot teach our kids to compete with machines which are smarter. We have to teach something unique, so that the machine can never catch up with us… We need to teach believing, independent thinking*, teamwork, care for others… sports, music, art…everything we teach should be different from machines."
Jack Ma
Founder of Alibaba Group at Davos in 2018


"We imagine a future not too far off, where interactive robots with the ability to perform multiple human tasks and provide visualisation of complex ideas can help children to learn and collaborate better.”
Ms Foo Hui Hui
Assistant Director of Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority’s Education Sector team


“Guided by the narrow view that a teacher’s primary job is to transmit knowledge, technology has traditionally been viewed as something to either replace the teacher or aid the teacher… A more productive relationship may [that] technology can replace certain functions of the human teacher but not entirely. In the meantime, teachers… should relinquish some of their teaching responsibilities to technology and shift their energy to do things that technology cannot do.”

Yong Zhao
Presidential chairman and director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education at the University of Oregon.

“Ultimately, the approach [Deepcoder — a system that has gained the ability to write its own code and may make the need for human coders a thing of the past] could allow non-coders to simply describe an idea for a program and let the system build it.”

Marc Brockschmidt
One of DeepCoder’s creators, Microsoft Research, Cambridge.

“Several studies have indicated that interacting with social robots in educational contexts may lead to a greater learning than interactions with computers or virtual agents. As such, an increasing amount of social human–robot interaction research is being conducted in the learning domain, particularly with children.”

James Kennedy et al
Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK

“Education Dominance [a digital tutoring project trialed with the US Navy] set out to demonstrate that education could be improved by an order of magnitude… In all trials the graduates using the Digital Tutor dominated, often by margins that were described as “huge”… Education Dominance students dominated in all competitions against Fleet experts with an average of ten years of experience.”

William D. Casebeer
Program Manager, Training and Human Effectiveness, DARPA

“It’s vital that we have an education that develops human potential rather than pits it against machines. An education system designed for an industrial economy that is now being automated requires transformation, from a system based on facts and procedures to one that actively applies that knowledge to collaborative problem solving. This won’t be easy given the perverse financial incentives of an education model rooted in the late 19th century, driven by an antiquated text book and measurement industry that regards teaching as delivery rather than design… But this has misunderstood the nature of teaching and learning which is a uniquely personal and social activity between people that caters to every learners changing needs, unique talents, passions, and interests.”

Graham Brown-Martin
Author of Learning {Re}imagined.

So, if they’re telling you to teach facts from the front from a script to compliant, immobile children and young people then replacing you with a robot will be a piece of cake.

If you believe teaching is something far more human, then the future certainly looks different, but a lot more rosy.


*Yay us!

To find out more about booking Ian Gilbert for your school, college or organisation call us on 01267 211432 or drop us an email on

About the author

Ian Gilbert

Ian Gilbert is an award-winning writer, editor, speaker, innovator and the founder of Independent Thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia and is privileged to have such a global view of education and education systems.

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