Why teachers won’t be replaced by Google and teachers are the experts


Now the pressure is off with year 11 I have some time to think. If you know me you’ll know I’m not that knowledgeable but I have the motivation to learn and luckily as a teacher I know some good strategies to support learning. I’ve always regretted not taking History at school and as I live with a historian I thought my first area to research would be historical.

So off I set with some coloured pens, a shiny new pad and some topics to research online.

Off I went, straight to Google. And I hit a problem. I didn’t know whether what it came up with is what I actually needed. I could have spent hours going through pages and trying to corroborate sources, decide if they were reliable or not and unpick the complex nature of interpretation in history. I’m relatively adept online. I generally ‘Google’ a lot for myself and for others. But I think that if I just had the internet at that point I would’ve given up.

However I was lucky, I had a teacher. He could give me some key ideas, answer my silly questions, tell me when there were different interpretations, guide me down different lines of enquiry and most importantly show an interest in my learning. Google doesn’t do this. The teacher is the expert. Without the teacher I would never have known if I was learning the correct information.

This experience has reminded me of a few important things:

  1. Students need teachers. They are the experts. They can answer the obscure. They can direct students to finding the correct answers. They can give detailed, nuanced, accurate knowledge efficiently.  They can encourage. They can tell you when you’ve got something wrong.
  2. Books are hugely important. We don’t get students to use them enough.
  3. If we tell students to ‘research’ on the internet, how do we expect them to know what is correct/true/reliable? Even teaching them the ins and outs of source reliability and how to do internet searches will not negate the need for a teacher.




2 thoughts on “Why teachers won’t be replaced by Google and teachers are the experts

  1. As I remind anyone who I have trained in Computing – the internet was not designed with children in mind or those with little knowledge. It was designed by and for people with a level of literacy and numeracy that is secure and a basic understanding of what it is they are researching. Even then it is not always straight forward and like you I find myself going to someone who has experience and expertise – poor Nick Rose!! – precisely because I want to know I am on the right track.

    In primary I would say no research at all until Year 5 and even then limit choice. Research sessions end up with lots of copying of irrelevant information because they don’t know what they are doing. Fact checking on specific websites is a different matter. And we need to teach what reliable looks like and why.

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