A national union representing Ontario teachers says it is preparing for “a future where teaching is replaced by computers”.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said it’s not surprised the province’s schools are having trouble keeping up with demand, given that teachers have had to pay more and more for advanced technologies.
The Ontario Federation of Teachers says it has already been preparing for a future where teachers are “crippled by the impact of the IT revolution”, where students can learn on the go, and where they’re competing with machines in every facet of teaching.
The federation says Ontario is seeing an increase in the number of students entering the workforce with computer-based learning needs, including teaching.
“We’re seeing that increase as well, but the teachers who are teaching are seeing that also with a lot of students taking to online learning,” said Dave Smith, the federation’s president.
The union says more and less of the teachers it represents are willing to accept the IT-driven changes.
“The number of teachers who have accepted those changes and the number that are prepared to accept those changes are shrinking,” Smith said.
In Ontario, more than 1,400 teachers have already been laid off or transferred to other positions over the past year.
In a letter to parents and students obtained by CBC News, the teachers union says it’s working to keep up with IT demand and has asked for more staff at the elementary level.
The teachers union’s letter says it expects to increase its staff by up to 200 positions over four years, with a further 50 to 100 positions to come online within three years.
Teachers across the province are already working to stay in their classrooms, the letter says, and the union is asking them to work longer hours, which will result in more layoffs.
Smith says the union will be working with students and staff in the public schools to help ensure that students are able to get a good education.
“There is a lot we can do to make sure that we have enough resources and we’re prepared for the future,” he said.
Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation President Dave Smith says the federation has already prepared for a “future where teaching was replaced by technology.”
The Ontario teachers union has warned it may have to lay off staff if the province moves to privatize public schools.
The provincial government has been talking about eliminating the provincial board of education, which currently administers education in Ontario.
The government has also been trying to get rid of the Ministry of Education, which runs the public school system.
Smith said the union’s members will continue to fight for their jobs.
“It’s going to be difficult to continue to be here until we have a better education system,” he told CBC News.
“And then we can move on to a better future.”
Smith said he hopes Ontario teachers are prepared for this new, increasingly demanding world.
“That’s why we are prepared,” he added.
“We will be replaced … by machines.”