An aid, not a replacement

All my conscious life I have been an enthusiast of computer-aided and technology-aided education of every kind. I am pretty sure that the new technologies will continue revolutionise the field is the forseeable future. But I am sure as well that any technology (machine-learned networks, robots, whatever) will remain an aid—as far as we manage not to turn it into an obstacle,—not a replacement to the teacher-to-pupil interaction.

The phenomenon of autodidacticism, of people attaining certain—sometimes the highest—degrees of mastering a subject without attending a college or any kind of vocational classes, is not new. But self-taught comprised a tiny share of specialists in most areas in the period between introduction of more or less mass education in 19—20th centuries and proliferation of affordable computers and telecom in late 20—21th. I witnessed an anomaly surge in both quantity and in quality of self-taught programmers (and some other computer-related specialists) in mid-to-late-1980s; to this time, despite mushrooming academic and vocational facilities for computer programmers, a huge proportion of them are autodidacts, with degrees in science or other technologies or without degree at all, especially when one looks not to teams behind “products” but to authors of some really interesting and novel projects. It seems that availability of hands-on experience works as a multiplicator for attractiveness of self-teaching a subject.

Would further availability of music technologies promote musical education in a similar way?—I doubt it! While we may expect increase of autodidacts in particular areas of musicking, like making of electronic music, practicing music as such is available and affordable to anyone with a plastic recorder for $3 or one’s own voice, for free. I guess, what is reasonable to expect is gradual and slow rise in opportunities of learning/self-teaching music provided by:

  • availability of didactic material, like texts/video/audio/multimedia classes on the Internet;

  • availability of MOOCs (I have already completed 12 to the date);

  • availability of drilling programs like those available at A boring and mechanical processes of drilling is a substantial part of learning in many areas, languages and music included, and if a system of computer-aided learning is capable of increasing its efficiency by 10 or 20%, it is a great deal! Current piano keyboard and solfège drill programs are a joke, as far as I know, but I do hope to see some progress in several years;

  • (one really great idea I took from Prof. Sugata Mitra’a video) bringing via telecom into the area of music education not only currently underprivileged pupils/students, but “underprivileged” potential teachers and tutors as well, meaning those possessing some sought-after competencies and willingness to participate in education of the youth but still lacking opportunity to do it full-time or internally.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply