Teaching Is Human-Human interaction Not Human-Robot


I started teaching informally when I was very young. I taught Mathematics and Physics to my younger cousins when I was in high school. Very soon, I found teaching is not easy and it is not enough to master what you are teaching!
The most important reason is that teaching is not an interaction between human-robot. When you write an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) code, you teach to a machine how to search or solve the problems. We never feel worried about learning capacity of the machine or the ability of the machine to learn what we coded! However, this is very different when we teach students. Students are not machines.
There are two different streams of research in the Information Science (IS): Design and Behavioral science. In design science, researchers develop systems such as database management systems without considering the applicability of the new designs in interaction with people in a real organization’s environment. However, in behavioral science, the focus is on human interactions with systems. For example, they build theories about gender and age rule in technology acceptance and usage behavior in organizations. An organization needs knowledge about both the product and behavioral reactions in order to apply a new information technology system successfully.
I think the teaching has two different parts same as the two different streams of research in the IS. Teachers should have the enough knowledge about the material they are teaching but it is not enough. They also should have enough knowledge about behavioral theories of teaching. For example, the first lesson I learned through teaching was that encouragement will have a positive impact on learning and threating students will hinder learning. As a teacher learn more about behavior theories of teaching, he/she can teach better. I think that is why some teachers will teach very better when they gain more experience.

4 thoughts on “Teaching Is Human-Human interaction Not Human-Robot

  1. Carrie Jensen says:

    I had a similar experience when I tried to tutor fellow students in math in high school…I thought, “well I’m good at math, this means I’ll be great at teaching it!.” This turned out to be wrong (if anything, math coming easily to me might have hindered me from being able to teach it to others?). University students are fortunate to be able to learn from leading scholars and researchers, but I agree that professors should also know something about how (as opposed to what) to teach. I’ve always thought it’s interesting that, for example, elementary school teachers generally need a degree in education in order to get a job, but university professors don’t necessarily need a degree, class, or certificate in education or even teaching experience to secure a position (although, additional teaching efforts such as these do make you more likely to get a job, perhaps). Thanks for the post!

  2. Yi Liu says:

    I love the comics; it really made me laugh. The idea is true and obvious: no matter how smart and knowledgable one is, he/she can really suck at teaching. We have so many professors in universities that are really good researchers, but their lectures are boring and hard to understand. But teaching actually is a metric to assess faculty. Although the weight is different for different universities, being good teachers do add value to your academic career. And I hope we will value teaching more in the future.

  3. Cody K says:

    I really appreciate this example and break-down of the components of successful teaching! The ever-popular picture of a professor that is a great researcher and poor teacher obviously lacks the human-interaction component.

    While it falls on us to do our part to add human-interaction capacity to our classrooms, I feel we shy too much from an equal expectation of the student. Especially at the university level, the students should bridge the gap between knowledge and application + retention as well. If we meet in the middle, success is all but guaranteed. Students seem to come to university less and less able/prepared to do this each year it seems, and praxis needs to change in the K-12 level certainly. However, a good student or a good instructor should be able to bridge the gap themself (though, again, it should be a two-way street).

    Again, thanks for the great example!

  4. Kate V. says:

    I think your analogy between teaching and Information Systems is an interesting one and you are very correct- teachers need to know both the material AND how to teach, and these two things are not the same thing! I got my undergraduate degree at a liberal arts college, where teaching quality was very important and I must say, the teachers there were better than the teachers I have had in grad school! My grad-school professors were clearly more interested in their research than teaching (most of them, anyway). I am completely baffled why universities hire people to do a job when they have little to no experience or skill at that job!

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