Weely Reflections

Debate #3 Reflection – Should Schools Teach Skills That Can Be Easily Carried Out by Technology?

I would like to start this blog by introducing an interesting paper I recently read, “The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization?” by Carl and Michael from the University of Oxford. In this paper, they develop a novel methodology to category occupations according to their susceptibility to computerization because of the recent advances in Machine Learning (ML) and Mobile Robotics (MR), and then they implement this methodology to estimate the probability of computerization for 702 detailed occupations and examine expected impacts of future computerization on US labour market outcomes. They find out some occupations have a high probability of computerization, such as Bus drivers, transit and intercity, Light truck or delivery services drivers, Word processors and typists, Interpreters and translators, Taxi drivers, and Cashiers, Mathematical technicians, and so on. These occupations could be replaced by ML and MR in the future, so now should schools still teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology? My thought on this topic is that schools should switch the focus to teaching skills that cannot be easily replaced by computerization instead of focus on teaching menial skills. 

The table ranks occupations according to their probability of computerisation (from least- to most-computerisable).
Image from the appendix table of the paper

As David Middelbeck mention in the video about “Re-inventing Education for the Digital Age,” sometimes technology raced ahead of it first leads to social pain and inequality, and then, at some points, the whole educational system changes to keep up with the technology. Like Sushmeet and Leah argued, if some skills would eventually be replaced by technology, why do we spend so much time teaching the next generation skills that can be accomplished through technology. By removing menial tasks, we can teach children how to use technology creatively and learn meaningful knowledge. I think it is the time the educational system needs to reinvent based on the current technology, but be cautious about the pace, because modern technology has not developed enough for us to get rid of some skills, for example, basic math skills, spelling, cursive writing. Educators still need to teach the foundation of these skills, but focus more on Uniquely Human Skills, like empathy, content creation, interpersonal skills, tech management, etc., that cannot be replaced by technology. 


As the disagree side argued, accurate spelling is critical when seeking employment or promotion. It is true. Worked as a career development practitioner, I always tell my clients that when they submit their resume and cover letter, they need to make sure there are no spelling and grammar mistakes, it is more like to receive an immediate rejection from the hiring manager if you have spelling mistakes in your application documents. On the other hand, your resume would also get rejection if it is boring and ineffective. Should you spend more time on correcting spelling, which can be easily corrected by some software, like Grammarly, or spend more time on drafting phrases and sentences and making your resume more effective and eye-catching, which cannot be replace by computerization? The answer is obvious.

Similar ideas can also be applied to the marketing and advertising initiatives of a company. I agree that one minor small mistake can become costly for the company, but one wrong marketing strategy can have a dramatic influence on the company. Should the company pay more attention to the marketing strategy itself or spelling? Again, the answer is obvious.

It does not mean that the spelling is less important, but the focus is different. How can a person compose an effective resume or an attractive marketing slogan without a good foundation of language? The focus of the educational system needs to be more on content creation and build a strong language foundation instead of just checking spelling mistakes.

Cursive Writing

English is my second language. When I learn English, I have never learned cursive writing. I was taught by writing like a computer, and we were graded by our handwriting, which is still the same nowadays in China (Tracy, 2015). Thus, I have a hard time reading someone else handwriting if it is too scratchy. I remember Nicole‘s comment during the debate that handwriting is still important in an emergency especially if a nurse writes one letter wrong, it would be a grave mistake. Nowadays, the technology does not automatic enough to replace all handwriting processes with computer typing, so medical professionals still need to have good handwriting skills. The value of writing skills acts as an addition to the medical school curriculum. Writing in a legible manner is imperative for good clinical practice and poor prescribing and documenting can have harmful consequences for the patient (Malik, 2017). However, I believe that one day, all the handwriting processes are replaced by computerization. The educational system will be reinvented. Cursive writing will not be part of the school curriculum. 

One pupil was given an A minus, but the teacher reminded her to be more careful while writing the lower-case T
One pupil in China was given an A minus, but the teacher reminded her to be more careful while writing the lower-case T.
Image from https://bit.ly/3x2jV87

In conclusion, technology and education should be kept in the same race. Educational systems and pedagogical approaches need to be updated based on the current technology. It will painful to get rid of our traditional educational approaches to embrace new approaches, but we still need to do it. As David mentioned in his presentation, the “one-size-fits-all” teaching philosophy needs to be changed and creative learning methods would be innovated because of technology. What educators teach should involve with the dramatic shift of technology that is required nowadays.

Debate #4 Reflection – Does Educators Have a Responsibility to Use Technology and Social Media to Promote Social Justice? Coming soon…


  • Kelly Ziegler

    Interesting comments, indeed! Yes, spelling does matter. I wish that the prompt would have suggested penmanship instead of solely cursive writing, but knowing how to write is key. Our group believes that technology has a place within the classroom, and we are all proponents of the technology. However, we do not think that technology should replace basic learning skills that people carry with them throughout their lives. If we have a dependence on technology, and the technology doesn’t work and we have no backup plan, then we are a fish trying to climb a tree. Unable to adapt to our surroundings, and able to continue working, etc.

    • Echo

      Hi Kelly,

      Thank you for reading my blog. I agree. At this point, technology has not advanced enough for us to get rid of basic skills. I imagine one day if our life looks like those science fiction movies. Technology is extremely developed at that time. Robots are everywhere. That’s probably a difficult picture for our daily life and education, but now, we still need to learn basic skills to adapt to our surroundings and work, as you mentioned. I do think education would start shifting its focus in the future.


  • Sushmeet Kaur

    Hey Echo,
    I agree that technological advancement is one day going to take over the skills that are already used very less, like cursive writing. Also, I loved your example of spellings for making resumes. True that we should not waste time on things that can be done by technology and rather should focus on those that need more attention

    • Echo

      Hi Sushmeet,

      Thank you for reading my blog. As Kelly mentioned, we probably need to teach students penmanship instead of cursive writing. Students need to learn how to write. In addition, students need to have a good foundation of language, e.g. spelling, word choice, sentence structure, etc., in order to compose an effective and attractive resume, but the focus needs to switch to content creation.


  • Kimberly Kipp

    Hi Echo, thanks for sharing that first article. It was a very interesting read. I know I’ve been in faculty meetings and it’s been discussed that teachers could never TRULY be replaced by machines…but sometimes I wonder. HA! As a former student who once struggled with spelling (but was also very creative), I relate to your statement that education needs to shift to a more innovative lens. As an educator, the problem I have seen with student writing is that even when Grammarly can offer assistance, many students have such trouble forming the initial basic sentences and then their creativity becomes stifled. I believe in a combination approach – basic skills with the desired end goal being greater creative expression. It’s a tough juggling act! Thanks for the great post!

    • Echo

      Hi Kimberly,

      Thank you for commenting on my blog. I was relieved to see that teachers and social workers would not easily be replaced by computerization too. Although Grammarly can correct spelling, if students even don’t how to choose the right words or structure a sentence, Grammarly can help with the basics, but not able to help all of them. That’s the limitation of the technology. Students need to acquire these basic skills in order to cover the shortage of technology. If in the future, another software (advanced than Grammarly) invented can help students to choose words and draft a sentence, it would be another completely different picture.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: