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Friday, January 11, 2008

Eleven Plus Robots

I went to Bett 2008 yesterday. This is the show where suppliers demonstrate their wares to Local Authorities, Schools, Teachers and Parents.

There were some truly amazing stands with lucid and compelling sales people. Other stands were to inform and educate.

I met a couple who told me their son had special needs and they had developed a robot that would entertain and help him to learn. I could not help but be impressed by how this couple had taken a product developed `on the kitchen table’ through to having it built in bulk in China – and were now selling the robot to schools. The depth of love and attention and focus displayed by that couple is to be admired. I wish I had been able to meet their son and see him playing with the robot. Look on the web for Robosapien V2.

I am sure a number of readers already have at least one of these little robots.

Imagine if we could program a robot to be able to do well in eleven plus examinations with certain types of questions. This would mean that we know the robot would be able to answer set questions. How much extra programming would be needed for the robot to be able to cope with one or two unusual questions thrown in by the examining board?

In the same way I wonder if it is the responsibility of teachers, tutors or parents to only teach what they think will be in the eleven plus examination? Surely children taking eleven plus examinations need to be able to solve problems and think?

I also met a man at the show who talked about Aristotle’s ethics. He was arguing that Aristotle’s views on virtue were still relevant to parents today. He felt that parents wanted to be involved with their children’s education.

So is it ethical for a teacher only to teach what is in the examination or does a teacher or a tutor have much wider responsibility? After all the last thing a parent wants is a little robot sitting in an examination.

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