Can Online Education Programs and Instructional Software Replace Face-to-Face Instruction?
Inspired by a post in the NYTimes.com by ANNIE MURPHY PAUL entitled: The Machines Are Taking Over
I use computers, Khan Academy, calculators, Google translstor, Rosetta Stone, props, maps, outside reading, and anything else I can to reach the students I tutor, mentor, and coach.
I am not at all concerned that computers or some online service will replace me or make what I do obsolete. In fact, I tell every student and/or their parents (depending on the age, of course) that my primary mission is to eliminate the need for my services.
But I will say this, when a student’s mother (a wonderful physician and parent married to another wonderful physician and parent) hugs me and says: “Thank you for saving my son’s life, he wouldn’t have made it without you!” I know what I do will always have a place and that I will work with children for the rest of my life.
The reason I will work with children for the rest of my life has everything to do with the fact that:
1) My son was utterly destroyed by the actions and incompetence of a 4th grade teacher who was more interested in winning a personality conflict she was engaged in with a bright and precocious 8 year old than finding out why he was “so difficult.”
2) A supposedly progressive school system, and its entire guidance counseling system, was also incompetent and incapable of understanding that children with ADD and ADHD, or almost any other learning and/or developmental challenge for that matter, needs to remain in the mainstream, even 30 years ago, that to remove them would do, and in fact did do, irreparable harm.
3) That children of every sort, from the truly gifted to the most developmentally challenged, need love, compassion, understanding, patience, guidance, and dedication if they are to flourish…in spite of any real or perceived hurdles or challenges.
4) That the intangible rewards of working with children are beyond measure…priceless! That will never come in a box or a can!
I lost my son to suicide on July 1, 2012.
I knew my son had been deeply scarred by the way he was treated by the school system his mother and I trusted to do their best by him…the very same school system we had attended years before. Sadly, it wasn’t until after his death that his best friend, a man who, as it turned out, had known my son far better than I did, told me just how devastating his experience had been…how it had weighed on and affected him. So much so that, in the end, the pain had to end.
My son finally took control of his life by ending it on that June/July night. One can argue whether or not it was the right thing to do. Frankly, the point is now moot.
My son was the only good thing in my life for a number of years and I told him that constantly. I guess I didn’t tell him, and show him, enough.
So once again, for my son and for so many others like him, I will continue to work with (tutor, mentor, and coach) children until I can no longer do so; and then, someone else will take my place. I will do my best to connect with, on a HUMAN LEVEL, those children who need my help. Whether it’s a student struggling with ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, or some other challenge…I will do whatever I can for as long as I can.
Not a box, not a machine, and not a program or a system…a humane, human being…so no other father has to find out too late that his son or daughter suffered as my son suffered!
It can’t bring my son back but it may keep someone else’s son or daughter here a little while longer….
John P. J. “Jackie” Zajaros, Jr. (April 21, 1976 – July 1, 2012)