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Why Do I Need a Teacher When I've Got...?

Ian Gilbert's famous question just got bigger

Way back in 2010, Independent Thinking founder Ian Gilbert wrote a book titled, Why Do I Need a Teacher When I've Got Google?

It was a prescient book in many ways (and not just because it drew attention to the likelihood of a global pandemic).

For Ian, the answer to that question has always been quite simple.

And hopeful.

Not my Fault

It was an answer that was brought to life shortly after the book was published when his daughters were at school in Santiago, Chile.

Seeing his girls on the receiving end of some dubious teaching ('I've taught them so it's not my fault they're not learning. Have you thought about getting a tutor? Here's a card. It's my daughter. She's very good'. True story) he decided enough was enough.

Pulling the girls out of school one lunchtime, he set them up with laptops and Khan Academy around the dining table. 

And that was that.

A Mahoosive Leap Forward

Their learning improved almost instantly. How?

By preventing them from being taught badly.

Over a decade later, look how far we have come in terms of the technology-assisted learning.

And this progress took a mahoosive leap forward today with the release of ChatGPT-4o.

Take a look:

And if you're a languages teacher looking pityingly at your colleagues in the maths department, take a look at this short video below. At one point today's annoucements by ChatGPT-4o knocked $250m off Duolingo's share price.

(Mind you, we can only hope that it won't be long before humans get used to looking at each other rather than the technology when they talk!)

If you haven't been able to think about the role of AI in teaching and learning up to this point for whatever reason, then now is a good time to sit up and take notice.

The Answer to That Google Question

Our response to this latest breakthrough in assistive AI-driven technology has to be the same as our response to Ian's 'Google question' from over a decade ago.

If you are one of the many thousands of teachers who build relationships, engage emotions, develop thinking skills, help students know good knowledge from false facts and what to do with it after that, who embrace change and technology and bring a level of humanity, compassion, humour and creativity to the classroom, then we need you now more than ever. [ITL]

PS - in 2014 Ian was asked by Routledge for a second edition of his Google book. Every indicator (pollution, water scarcity, climate change, immigration, poverty...) had become worse in the intervening fours years. He hasn't dared look at it again.



To book Ian to talk about this important topic in his inimitable style at your school or conference then please get in touch.

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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