Posts Tagged ‘On-line learning’

Sensitizing and Sanitizing Algorithms Essential for Defending Their Broader Use in Schools

August 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Cathy O’Neill, who blogs as Mathbabe and is a regular contributor to Bloomberg, wrote a post yesterday on the pushback “algorithmic overlords” are beginning to receive from researchers and politicians. Ms. O’Neill, who has written extensively about the bias of algorithms, offers some examples in her post:

Objective as they may seem, artificial intelligence and big-data algorithms can be as biased as any human. Examples pop up all the time. A Google AI designed to police online comments rated “I am a gay black woman” 87 percent toxic but “I am a man” only 20 percent. A machine-learning algorithm developed by Microsoft came to perceive people in kitchens as women. Left unchecked, the list will only grow.

This kind of inherent bias can be problematic for those of us who see promise in the use of algorithms in personalized learning. For example, if algorithms direct users to ever narrower learning opportunities that are determined based on inherent biases, young women might be directed away from mathematics and science content and toward content in “kitchen-related” fields while long men would be directed in the opposite way…. and as long as these kinds of algorithmic biases exist it will be impossible to overcome resistance to data-driven personalization.

Ms. O’Neill is no Luddite. She sees promise in the use of technology to enhance education. But she is not enthusiastic about the “algorithmic overlords” tendency to keep their methods secret in the name of proprietary information:

Many researchers and practitioners are working on how to assess algorithms and how to define fairness. This is great, but it inevitably runs into a bigger problem: secrecy. Algorithms are considered the legally protected “secret sauce” of the companies that build them, and hence largely immune to scrutiny. We almost never have sufficient information about them. How can we test them if we have no access in the first place?

Legislators need to intercede… and they are beginning to do so, albeit at a snail’s pace. Here’s hoping they succeed, for if they don’t, biases will persist.


MO “Government Schools” that Introduce On-Line Learning “Proof” That Competition is Needed

August 19, 2017 Leave a comment

An article by Teresa Mull in Townhall, a conservative publication, asserts that a recently introduced on-line learning program by the Springfield (MO) Public Schools “proves why public education, even if taxpayers are paying for it, should act and be treated as though they are companies in the private sector.” She reaches this conclusion, in part, because their Superintendent, John Jungmann, led them there with his explanation for why his district decided to offer 40 courses on line:

Springfield Public Schools (SPS) is hardly acting altruistically. As the News Leader noted, it wants to attempt to “beat for-profit virtual schools to the punch.” Superintendent John Jungmann told the News Leader, “with private companies looking to expand in the state, it was important to come up with a local solution.”

As a conservative columnist Ms. Mull’s article is full of criticism for “government schools”, which, in her world, innovate only because of the nascent competition. Moreover, anything that takes children out of the clutches of union-dominated “government schools” is a good thing: This paragraph offers an example of the reasoning that girds Ms. Mull’s ideas about public schools:

SPS’s online offerings will still align to the state’s learning standards, which means they’ll likely be limited in what they can teach and how, and they’ll have to comply with the silly left-wing ideologies of government school administrators. But at least fewer kids will be forced to spend time in government school buildings, where time is often wasted and bullies cause unnecessary harm.

The article is worth a read if only to gain an understanding of the invalid assumptions that drive the pro-privatization and anti-“government school” movement. In Ms. Mull’s ideal world, where we are “…a nation free from government schools and odious teachers unions, wherein parents responsible enough to bring another human into this world are also responsible enough to ensure that human is educated without the government’s help” we would also be a world where atomistic students are “protected” from children who do not share the identical values of the parents, from exposure to the multiculturalism that defines the public forums in our nation, and from the chance to learn information that might be unsettling and uncomfortable. It is not the world that this “silly left wing” ideologue sees as viable or desirable.

ESSA Does Provide an Opportunity to Expand Mastery Learning… Will States Seize the Chance?

August 12, 2017 Leave a comment

25 years ago when I was beginning my second term was Superintendent in MD, my staff members and I decided we would make an earnest effort to introduce the concept of mastery learning to our district. Our plan was to develop an “Essential Curriculum” that would identify the sequence of skills every student needed to master in subject areas and then develop performance assessments to determine if students had mastered the plan. Students would progress through the sequence at their own pace, based on our credo that performance would be constant and time would be variable. Letter grades would be abandoned in favor of periodic progress reports and “grade levels” might ultimately be abandoned in favor of “families” or “pods”. It was an ambitious plan that was ultimately set aside because the State began launching what would ultimately become the Maryland State Performance Program, a precursor to the the kinds of state level tests that NCLB mandated. As the State Department began developing its guidelines for testing, it became evident that time would remain constant and performance wold be variable. That is, all tests would be administered during one time period to grade level cohorts defined by the age of students. While this state initiative did not derail our efforts to develop an Essential Curriculum, it DID undermine the direction we hoped to head in terms of assessing and grouping students. In effect, the decision to administer state-wide standardized tests flew in the face of mastery learning…. and not just in Maryland, but across the nation once NCLB was put in place.

NCLB testing did not extend to high schools, and some states, most notably Vermont and New Hampshire, passed regulations that enabled high schools to award credit for something other than “seat time”, opening the door for mastery learning to be introduced at the high school level. This open door led to partnerships with post secondary institutions, the introduction of on-line non-profit and public school sponsored on-line courses, and opportunities for students to gain credit for experiential learning.

My misgivings about ESSA are well documented in this blog, especially given the GOP dominated statehouses across the nation who might use the state level flexibility to re-impose failed ideas like VAM and using tests as the sole or primary metric for “grading” schools. But, as Kyle Spencer reported in yesterday’s NYTimes, ESSA DOES provide an opportunity for schools and school districts to achieve the concepts our district in MD set out to implement 25 years ago. In “A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry”, Mr Spencer describes precisely the kind of program we hoped to implement… and it describes the kinds of resistance we ran into apart from the state standardized test program. The exemplary program Mr. Spencer profiled in NYC’s MS 442 allows students to progress at their own rate, gives them and their parents timely feedback as the progress through the course sequences, and makes performance constant and time the variable.

But programs like the one Mr. Spencer describes, as he notes, does engender resistance from several sources. Parents who want to know the child’s “grade” are befuddled by the system that tracks progress through a sequence of skills. The high schools, who seek a percentage score as an admissions criteria, are flummoxed by the skill reporting as well, forcing the cadre of NYC schools using the mastery approach to develop an algorithm to assign such “grades” to its students. Teachers who find the change of approach mind-boggling have left the schools where mastery learning has been introduced.

Mr. Spencer’s article captures the ways that mastery learning is a radical departure from the dominant “factory” paradigm and how it plays out from the student’s perspective and emphasizes how the emerging grassroots mastery schools movement is necessarily different from school-to-school. He also describes the two factors that are making mastery learning possible now more than ever: ESSA… and technology:

…The rise of online learning has accelerated the shift, and school technology providers have been fierce advocates. It’s no surprise that schools adopting the method are often the same to have invested heavily in education software; computers are often ubiquitous inside their classrooms.

He also describes the reasons that mastery learning might be compromised: by focussing on cost-cutting; by devolving into a checklist mentality for all courses; by assuming that the metrics used to measure “mastery” are perfect;

Mastery-based learning, of course, has its critics. Amy Slaton, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia who studies the history of science and engineering in education, worries that the method is frequently adopted to save costs. (When paired with computers, it can lead to larger classrooms and fewer teachers.)

Jane Robbins, a lawyer and senior fellow at the American Principles Project who has written critically about mastery-based education, said she finds the checklist nature of the system anti-intellectual. While it may work to improve math skills, it is unlikely to help students advance in the humanities, she said.

Others question the method’s efficacy. Elliot Soloway, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Education, contends that students learn by slowly building on knowledge and frequently returning to it. He rejects the notion that students have learned something simply because they can pass a series of assessments. He suspects that shortly after passing those tests, students forget the material.

But the advocates for mastery learning, which include your humble blogger, see it as an imperfect but potentially better way to reach all students more effectively. This quote reflects my thinking:

In any event, advocates argue, the current education system is not working. Too many students leave high school ill prepared for college and careers, even though traditional grading systems label many top performers. Last year, only 61 percent of students who took the ACT high school achievement test were deemed college-ready in English. In math, only 41 percent were deemed college-ready.

Mr. Spencer’s article is a balanced presentation on mastery learning and it implicitly emphasizes the complications schools will face in implementing such a program. But the traditional factory paradigm is clearly failing large numbers of children in our country and, Mr. Soleway’s rejoinders notwithstanding, does not afford opportunities for students to “… learn by slowly building on knowledge and frequently returning to it”. Indeed, if time is constant and performance is variable, the relentless march to “cover” the curriculum precludes any chance for “…slowly building on knowledge and frequently returning to it”! 

I am heartened to see the NYTimes reporting on this movement… and hope that as other schools and districts read this they, too, will consider moving in this direction.



Secular Humanism Alive and Well… at least in John Birch Society’s Mind

July 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Every morning I get a “Google Alert” consisting of several articles on public education, and invariably I get some from publications I would never read. Yesterday’s “Alert” provided a case in point: an article from The New American written by Steve Byas titled “What is the Alternative as Public Schools Degenerate“. The “essay” is effectively a lengthy advertisement for FreedomProject Academy, an online school which is described in glowing terms in the closing section of the “essay” which is printed in it’s entirety at the end of this paragraph. The rationale for enrolling your child in this on-line program is presented in the earlier section of the essay, whose headings give you a sense of the thinking of Mr Byas. They read: “Secular Humanism: Established Religion of Public Schools”; “Academics Take a Back Seat to Secular Humanism”; “Public Schools are Full of Leftist Propaganda”: “Common Core: Nationalizing Education”; “Can the Public Schools be ‘Saved'”; and finally, “FreedomProject Academy: A Fresh Alternative”.  I invite you to read about this “fresh alternative”:

One option we are particularly familiar with, and highly recommend, is FreedomProject Academy (FPA), which is affiliated with The John Birch Society, the parent organization behind The New American. FPA is a private, online K-12 school that does not accept any government funds. While not affiliated with any Christian denomination, the school has adopted a definite Judeo-Christian worldview.

Courses are delivered online through interactive classrooms to students around the world. The school is fully accredited, and it provides diplomas and transcripts. Founded in 2011, FreedomProject Academy offers a first-rate, classical education that acquaints students with great literature and the wisdom of the ages, including the principles of freedom that guided the Founding Fathers. According to its website, “FPA is happy to provide a fully accredited curriculum recognized for its authenticity and excellence, without any need to compromise our beliefs or high academic standards. FPA remains opposed to implementation of Common Core in public, private, and homeschool curricula, and will not tolerate it in our own classrooms.

The online classes of FPA are in real time, with live teachers and student interaction, not recorded lessons. Students log in at specified times, have opportunities to ask questions, and are also called upon during class.

FPA graduates have enrolled in higher education, have accepted internships, and have entered the workforce. They are prepared to compete academically at an extremely high level, bolstered by an education centered on civics, economics, writing, and math, and fortified by the Judeo-Christian values that are at the heart of the curriculum.

Dr. Duke Pesta, the academic director for FPA, told The New American, “Many kids who take our placement exams end up joining FPA after spending a few years in private schools, where parents become frustrated with the cost of tuition and imposition of Common Core in the classroom.” The placement exams, which are given at no charge, help FPA determine whether a student should be in, say, French I or French II. These tests are also utilized by many homeschooling families to monitor their children’s progress.

Pesta added that FPA partners with private schools, homeschools, co-ops, and churches, delivering “our teachers and curriculum into their local communities,” giving families a quality, yet affordable, education in safe spaces. He noted that “FPA’s reputation as a national leader in online K-12 education has provided a platform for us to offer national leadership in the fight against Common Core standards and the federalization of education. [FPA kids are] economically literate [and] schooled in the Constitution and founding documents. We are creating morally responsible, civic-minded thinkers, and we’re doing it without the help of the federal government.”

The reason that some parents are reluctant to homeschool their own children is that they feel educationally inadequate, especially as their children grow older and need specialized instruction in more advanced subjects. For these parents, FPA might very well be the solution.

And it is a safe bet that FPA will not be making use of history textbooks coming out of the California system of public schools.

As a secular humanist, it is also a safe bet I will not be subscribing to The New American any time soon.


Bryce Covert’s Review of Richard Reeves’ New Book Exposes His Timidity, Underscores Need to Reformat Schools

July 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Bryce Covert, the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress and columnist for The Nation, wrote an insightful review of Brookings Institute’s Richard Reeves’ new book Dream Hoarders. The premise of Mr. Reeves’ book is that the top 20% (i.e. those who earn roughly $117,000 or more) has experienced as many benefits from the economic expansion as the top .01% yet they— and the politicians— erroneously think of themselves as “middle class”. As a consequence, when politicians promise to “protect the middle class” from tax cuts they define the “middle class” as anyone making less than $250,000. Furthermore, as Mr. Reeves points out, those in the top 20% are not being asked to make any sacrifices when it comes to helping improve the opportunities for the bottom 80% to advance. Ms. Covert writes:

While, Reeves notes, individual members of the 1 percent can swing their money around to great impact, the upper middle class as a bloc has outsized influence. “[T]he size and strength of the upper middle class means that it can reshape cities, dominate the education system, and transform the labor market,” he writes. When their interests are threatened, the members of this class have the social capital to fight back….

Pretending that people making six figures are middle class, and then promising to protect them from any tax increases, means politicians are unable to ask these families to pay a tiny tax into new universal benefits like paid family leave. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Real solutions to exponentially increasing income inequality will require extensive public investment. And the tax revenue required can’t all come from the top 1 percent... “[M]ore money can be raised from the upper middle class without plunging them into near poverty…,” he notes. “[I]f we need additional resources for public investment, it is reasonable to raise some of them from the upper middle class.”

But Ms. Covert asserts that it is not sufficient to ask the top 20% for only higher taxes, and she believes that while Mr. Reeves’ recognizes this reality, he fails to offer the tough recommendations needed to change this reality:

(Reeves) also sees this class as not just defined by income, but by better health, education, occupational opportunities, and even different family structure. The upper middle class then uses these assets to hoard opportunities for itself, perpetuating an unfair system: Its members fight to preserve zoning laws that keep the good schools free of poorer children, find ways to pay their children’s way into elite colleges (he takes particular umbrage with legacy admissions), and trade favors to get their kids into unpaid internships. The rich skew the game so that American class structure stays entrenched.

In this way, Reeves accurately names a problem that too often goes unacknowledged. But his solutions for the problem are weak at best.

While he admits that his suggestions for how to solve perpetual class stratification are just a starting point, the lack of teeth is telling. He suggests providing low-income Americans with better access to family planning and home visits from nurses for new parents, ignoring the fact that single mothers fare a whole lot better in countries that actually spend enough on their social safety nets. He wants better teachers in K-12 schools, a less complex college loan process, more support for vocational training, and the end to legacy admissions at elite universities, but stops short of calling for a full-scale overhaul of the educational system, one that would put an end to racial segregation and ensure adequate funding for all…

He doesn’t want the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure that communities comply with fair housing rules or even to make upper-middle-class areas accept more high-rises; he just wants more three-story buildings. On taxes, he believes, “As a general principle, it is better for people to be able to spend their own money rather than have it taken away from them,” which leads him to endorse merely limiting some tax deductions used by the well-off.

Ms. Covert believes that “...for all his talk of a rigged system, Reeves doesn’t actually want to transform it“. Rather, Ms. Covert believes that Mr. Reeves wants to ensure that every child born into poverty has an equal opportunity to move into the upper 20%, a possibility that he believes is close at hand. Ms. Covert sees Mr. Reeves’ perception as flawed on two levels. First, it assumes that our economy must be a zero-sum game where there will always be a 20/80 split and secondly, it naively assumes that women and minorities are currently afforded the same opportunities as men and whites. In short, Ms. Covert does not share Mr. Reeves beliefs that a true meritocracy is close at hand. She concludes her review with these paragraphs:

Meanwhile, meritocracy is more often to blame for perpetuating discrimination than heralding its end. One study found that when an organization explicitly calls itself a meritocracy, managers favor male employees over female ones. If a workplace, or a society, believes that all one needs to get ahead is talent, it quickly ignores anything else that might keep someone from rising.

Reeves says he wants upper-middle-class Americans like himself to pay more so that the playing field is leveled for all. But his solutions suggest he’s not willing to take that instinct very far. His class wouldn’t have to pony up very much for the milquetoast solutions he puts forward. Even after his ideal revisions, the basic structure of America’s ruthless market-based society would remain intact. In his world, being a member of the lower classes, even with more mobility, would still destine you to destitution.

I believe Ms. Covert’s analysis is accurate: in order for those born into poverty, especially the young women born into poverty, to succeed, some deep changes in our economic system are necessary, changes that could be presaged by changing the format of our schools. As long as school boundaries are set by socio-economic demographics we will continue to reinforce the rigid 20/80 split in place making it increasingly difficult for those in the lower 80% to advance into the professional class. The imaginative use of technology might make those boundaries disappear… but only if we can make our current format of education— whereby children are grouped by age-based cohorts called “grades levels”— disappear as well.


The Absurdity of Ignoring the Potential of Technology to Support Individualization

July 3, 2017 Leave a comment

I read Diane Ravitch’s blog every morning to get her take and her commenter’s take on emerging educational trends. While I generally agree with her analyses, I am disappointed that she and many of those who comment regularly seem stuck in the notion that schooling needs to be structured the way it is now and seem reflexively opposed to any kind of technological enhancements to schooling. Her post today and the comments that accompany it are a case in point.

Titled “The Absurdity of applying Industrial Lingo to Schools“, Ms. Ravitch’s post is a well reasoned argument against the notion that schools can be “scaled” the way businesses can be:

While it is possible for schools to adopt and adapt a program or a practice that has worked out for others, the very idea of reproducing cookie-cutter schools designed to get high test scores invalidates the professional wisdom of educators. You can stamp out cars and tools with the right equipment, but you can’t reproduce good schools via mechanical processes.

People who work in business, industry, finance, or the tech sector like to speak of “scaling up,” of “innovation,” of “best practices,” and of “replication,” which they know how to do.

They are frustrated that success in one school is not easily packaged and replicated and scaled up to every school in the district, the state, the nation. They can’t believe how difficult it is to identify and package “best practices.”

So far so good… But then Ms. Ravitch argues against “innovation” itself, apparently linking ALL innovation with charters, vouchers, and for-profit management.

The concept of “innovation” is also overrated. It is not innovative to introduce charters and vouchers and for-profit management. All that changes is who gets the money.

And this raises an intriguing question for me: have the so-called “edu-prenuers” expropriated the term “innovation” the way they have expropriated the term “reform”… or are public education supporters ceding “innovation” to them?  By rejecting “personalization” that is made possible by technological advances, Ms. Ravitch and those who comment most frequently appear to implicitly support the notion that schooling must be provided in the same format that was designed in the 1920s when children were first batched into grade levels based on their age groups and provided with direct instruction in large groups. My thinking is that public schools need to find a way to re-format themselves or they will soon become obsolete. Let me elaborate.

The personalization promoted by some so-called “edu-prenuers” like Khan Academy provides a means for teachers to individualize instruction by using carefully sequenced curricula that embed formative assessments. This form of “personalized learning” is basically an electronic version of the color-coded SRA reading series used extensively beginning in the early 1960s, a form of “programmed instruction” based on the behaviorist theories of B. F. Skinner. While I am very familiar with the animosity many educators feel toward Skinner and the shortcomings of the SRA series (see Audrey Watters article here), I am drawn to the notion that many hierarchical foundational skills (namely reading, science, mathematics, and to a degree foreign language) can be taught effectively using technology-based instruction like Khan Academy. As a first-year junior high math teacher in Philadelphia in 1970 I designed my own SRA-like program for a group of my students who struggled with the basics, a packet of mimeographed sheets that provided individualized instruction and increased the engagement of the class. Preparing this required hours of my time outside of the classroom but reduced the time I needed to spend grading tests, homework, and worksheets. It seemed like a reasonable trade-off since more of the students appeared to be mastering the fundamental skills they lacked when they entered my classroom.

Over the course of my career as an educator, I watched computer technology advance from a clunky card-reader linked to a mainframe in Philadelphia in the 1971 computer class I taught to junior high students… to Commodore PET computers I used in Bethel, Maine in the late 1970s to the various iterations of Apple computers that evolved thereafter…. to where we are today. We HAVE the wherewithal to provide the kind of individualization needed to assure that all students master the hierarchical foundational skills at their own rate. But everyone– including the “reformers”— seems to believe school needs to be formatted in age-based cohorts and that students need to progress from one “grade level” to the next in a fixed time sequence. That is the underlying premise of the standardized tests used to assess the effectiveness of schools and the progress students make and, evidently, the underlying premise of those who support public education and oppose any form of “innovation” that is linked to technology.

At the elementary level the community school concept, whereby public schools house social workers, medical care providers, pre-school programs, and before-and-after-school child care services, redefines the purpose of school facilities in a manner that would help break the 1920 industrial age model that reinforces social service silos. To be most effective, these providers would need to share information on children to ensure seamless services and avoid duplication of efforts. Technology can facilitate that exchange.

There are many promising developments at the policy level that can free public schools from the lockstep methods we currently use. Both Vermont and New Hampshire, for example, have abandoned the Carnegie Unit as the means for determining high school credits. This opens the door for the kind of de-schooling that some commenters decry… but it also promises to make high school far more relevant for those who do not aspire to college. Again, technology can facilitate this development.

I think that critics of “reform”, “innovation”, and “edu-prenuers” should also recognize that profiteering has long been present in public education. The sale of textbooks, workbooks, audio-visual equipment, and office supplies predates the event of computer technology. What IS different is the conglomeration of these formerly independent enterprises, the establishment of a testing-technology-content complex that limits competition, limits diversity of resources, and stifles the creativity of teachers. I believe it is possible to isolate this corporate consolidation from technology and innovation and, in so doing, find ways that technology can be used to individualize instruction without dehumanizing it, to de-school society without eliminating public education, and break away from the age-based cohorts that are based on the premise that children develop in lockstep.



“Assembly Line Justice”: an Apt Metaphor for a Department of Education Driven by Efficiency

June 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Late yesterday I read an article by Erica Green of the NYTimes titled “Education Department Says It Will Scale Back Civil Rights Legislation”. The overarching purpose of  the “scaling back” is to reduce the backlog of cases in the department that are primarily the result of former President Obama’s directive to perform thorough and comprehensive investigations where they were warranted.

The office’s processing times have “skyrocketed,” the Education Department spokeswoman, Liz Hill, said, adding that its backlog of cases has “exploded.” The new guidelines were to ensure that “every individual complainant gets the care and attention they deserve,” she said.

In the memo, which was first published by ProPublica, (the acting head of the department’s office for civil rights, Candace) Jackson emphasized that the new protocols were aimed at resolving cases quickly.

“Justice delayed is justice denied, and justice for many complainants has been denied for too long,” Ms. Hill said in a statement.

But to civil rights activists, the real problem isn’t that justice will be denied to complainants. It’s that justice will not be rendered at all.

But civil rights leaders believe that the new directives will have the opposite effect. They say that Education Department staff members would be discouraged from opening cases and that investigations could be weakened because efficiency would take priority over thoroughness.

If we want to have assembly-line justice, and I say ‘justice’ in quotes, then that’s the direction that we should go,” said Catherine Lhamon, who was the assistant secretary of the Education Department’s civil rights office under Mr. Obama, and who now heads the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Ms. Green’s article explores the difference between the approaches Ms. Lhamon took in her civil rights investigations and those advocated by the incoming staff, describing how one particular case in a public school district required the district to dig into it’s disciplinary records for past years, an exercise that resulted in the district gaining a better understanding of its practices that resulted in a disproportionate number of harsh actions taken against minority students. This kind of in depth analysis requires staff time at the USDOE level as well, and as cases like these accumulated the backlog accumulated as well. In the name of efficiency, though, these kinds of thorough investigations will be a thing of the past.

In the concluding paragraph of the article, Ms. Green describes the budgetary gambit Betsy DeVos is using to facilitate the “judicious approach” the department will implement.

In the administration’s budget request for the fiscal year that begins in October, the Education Department has proposed cutting more than 40 staff positions from the office for civil rights, which would require the office to “make difficult choices, including cutting back on initiating proactive investigations,” the department wrote.

In effect, Ms. DeVos is submitting a budget that will ensure the necessity for limiting the thorough investigations… a budget that will require “assembly-line justice”. For a department that is enamored of algorithmic on-line learning it seems fitting that they would adopt algorithmic justice. Students, after all, are widgets that require periodic quality control via standardized tests and periodic attention from teachers who make sure the robots are providing sufficient knowledge. Who needs a thorough education when an efficient one is sufficient?