Proponent of Teacher Obsolescence Theory Becomes Obsolete

Renart_illuminationExbox, SD—Nicole Intendo, professor of education at Avante University, received notice on Wednesday that she would no longer be needed in the classroom. Instead of taking her classes, students would spend the the time playing video games.

Intendo works relentlessly to propagate the theory that traditional classroom teaching (narrowly defined) has become obsolete in the wake of educational technologies. According to sources, Avante University has enthusiastically decided to apply her ideas.

“That is insulting, preposterous, and un-research-based,” said Intendo. “Research has shown that classroom teachers in kindergarten through high school have become relics of the past. But in college and graduate school, it’s an entirely different matter. We need to shape the wants of aspiring professionals. Too many young people enter our education program with fantasies of standing in front of the room and presenting something fascinating about a subject. We have to combat their outdated sense of purpose.”

According to Intendo, research has shown that all aspiring teachers are essentially “industrial and hierarchical” in motivation. They want to teach the students something they don’t already know.  Video games, by contrast, are entirely interactive; you can’t get through the game unless you are actively playing. Therefore, says Intendo, it is essential that she disseminate the research as often and as widely as possible—through classroom lectures, TED talks, radio interviews, and pocket-size bullet points—so that the American public at large will be exposed to the facts.

“If I lose my position,” she said, fighting back tears, “there will still be kids in Boston or Dallas who have to sit and listen to a teacher talk about how to solve an algebraic equation or how a sonnet is structured or how World War II came about. Why should they have to suffer through that? All that information is on Wikipedia. What they really need is a screen, keyboard, and challenge, all tailored to them. It’s so obvious, once you look at the research—but it takes me about two years to get this across to any given student.”

Asked how teachers could possibly be evaluated accurately in a class driven by video games, Intendo pointed at a bar chart on the wall. “Teachers are all-important,” she said. “Everything they do impacts a student’s future outcomes. See that graph? It shows a teacher’s direct effect on future earnings, down to the dollar. This is why they have to accept their new roles and step out of the way.”

Intendo’s students have questioned her conclusions. “I think she’s comparing apples to Apples,” said one, who requested anonymity. “I enjoy video games, but they don’t belong everywhere. I’m taking a great class on Chaucer and Cervantes right now. Is there a video game for this?” He quoted from the text:

This Chauntecleer his winges gan to bete,
As man that coude his tresoun nat espye,
So was he ravissed with his flaterye.

“What are we supposed to do—play a game where we’re the rooster trying not to be killed by the fox?” he taunted. “Oh, and maybe sprinkle in some word challenges, like ‘ravissed’ and ‘Chauntecleer’?  I’d rather take the course, thanks, and play my favorite games in my own time.”

“My favorite high school classes had teachers who actually taught us stuff,” said another. “In music theory class, the teacher taught us harmony and counterpoint.  She made it really interesting, with examples from different kinds of music. She got us to notice things. Then for homework she had us do exercises and compose pieces. That’s the kind of teacher I hoped to be.”

“That just proves my point,” said Intendo. “As you can see from these comments, new teachers imagine themselves at the front of the room. They have some favorite teacher who set the example for them in that way. But they have to get weaned off their own experiences and start looking at data. They absolutely need me for that.”

Intendo, who gave a TEDTalk about the future of education, believes that education professors, when they lecture, should do so in TED style. “I don’t lecture all the time,” she said, “but when I do, I practice every move in advance, so that I project total confidence. I make my multimedia effects really grabbing. I keep the ideas simple so the students have a takeaway. I bring emotions into the picture. I even share a little about myself. My point is not to fill their heads with useless information but to convey the most essential data in about 20 minutes.” The rest of the time, she said, was devoted to “turn-and-talk” activities, where students would come to a “scholarly consensus” about what had been said. At the end of the lesson, they would fill out a two-column chart with the headings “I used to think” and “But now I know.”

“My classes are revolutionary, if I may say so myself,” she said. “It occurred to me the other day that I am changing the face of teaching and learning. I have to keep this up. If Avante gets its way, we will slide right back into the status quo.”

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  1. Men loven of propre kinde newfangelnesse,
    As briddes doon that men in cages fede.

    — Geoffrey Chaucer • “The Squire’s Tale”

  2. Carol Jago

     /  September 15, 2013

    Hoist on her own petard.

    Good post, Diana.


  3. ponderosa

     /  September 15, 2013

    Are there ANY TED education talkers who aren’t uncritical techno-utopianists or cynical charlatans or both?

  4. Kim Terranova

     /  September 16, 2013

    Thank you for writing this, Diana. Dogma and Psuedo-Intellectualism are a great plague in the field of education. These twin evils when paired with an unwillingness to properly fund education inhibit the development of a true professional culture. Pedagogues are oppressed, though many teachers and the public at large are completely unaware of this. Policy is in the clutch of one charlatan after another. The charlatans care about education to a degree, but they are not fully equipped to be true leaders. They are drawn to money and “Ted-Talk” notoriety, which in this field comes so quickly to the ambitious. So very quickly, that their perspectives and knowledge base have little time to mature and grow before they are told: “Hey, you know what you’re doing, and we’re going to give you lots of money to show everyone else the right way to go about things”. Fooled by their new societal and material status they loose touch with reality, thought and intention are corrupted, and so is everything that power structure touches, the very basis of society, our educational system. So sad.

  5. ponderosa

     /  September 16, 2013

    Kim, you characterize the situation perfectly! We had a superintendent who fit your description so well: charismatic and successful-seeming in his first year in the classroom, his superintendent groomed him to become a principal. As principal, he made a mess of things; switched to another district; had seeming success there; then returned to our district as superintendent. Made a huge mess (as you say, he was not “fully equipped”) but disguised it and got spirited away by a recruiting firm (thank god) to lead a much bigger district where I’m sure he’s afflicting everybody with his half-baked ideas.

    You’re right, too, that we have no “true professional culture”. After 17 years, I’m so sick of the inane staff developments; the passive, uninformed and rudderless faculty; the well-meaning principals who cannot envision a smarter order of things… I feel called to be a leader in my district, but I need a year’s sabbatical to craft a plan to build a more professional culture. I teach seven classes a day! I’m not smart and efficient enough to do this and play Solon too.


  6. Ally G

     /  September 26, 2013

    The postmodernists have finally got what they wanted: a higher educational field in which no one is an expert, so all opinions are equal. So why not pay a college professor less than minimum wage? It is their own fault that their profession is dying now. 75 percent of all college teachers are adjuncts who make about $1500-2000 per class. Whose fault is that?


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