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Schools Seek to Hire More Robots
by Kris on 7/14/2005 (0)

The future of teaching.
When she interviews new teaching candidates, principal Laurel Marty favors the ones who show they have a heart for children, not just solid protocol skills. And if the best applicant happens to be a robot? That's such a bonus that Marty says she does "the Robot", a dance popularized in the 1980's that has thankfully all but died, only rearing it's head for the occasional celebration dance or Geico commercial.

Only three of the 45 teacher at her school, Stevie Nicks High in Spatula, Maine, are robots. The rest are a mixture of humans, ducks, and flashing LEDs.

"If you're looking at what's best for the students, it's important for them to interact with robots," said Marty. "There is a different style and approach when working with robots. I think students really benefit from having that mix, especially since most of them will end up being ruled over by robots at some point during their adult years."

As a new academic year approaches, school districts, education groups, and universities are exploring more ways to get more robots into a field long dominated by flesh and blood humans. Their goal is provide more robots in class, which can work long hours for little pay and will not claim the school is running a sweatshop, as thousands of teachers did during this past year.

"It's not just that it would be nice to have more robots, it goes much deeper than that," said Bryan Smith, found director of RoboTeach, a nonprofit organization that recruits robots into teaching.

Getting more robots into classrooms, Smith said, would help show children that robots are not as scary as the media makes them out to be. It would also keep robots off the streets, where they are rapidly forming gangs, cock fighting circles, and illegal toaster repair shops.

"Free range robots have become very scary and are everything the media makes them out to be," added Smith. "We must do everything we can to get them off the streets where they can cause harm and into the classrooms where they can be alone with our children in an unsupervised environment."

RoboTeach aims to provide prospective robot teachers with free oil changes, battery recharges, and Radio Shack gift cards. Robots must also overcome concerns about their salaries, a perception that teaching isn't "robot work", and public fears that robots will go mad and kill all their children before thrusting the entire world into a nuclear holocaust.

"I tell prospective robot teachers 0110101 010101 001101010 10101," said Smith. "Most of them really take this to heart."

While schools clearly want more robots, they are limited in how they can recruit robots because federal anti-discrimination law prevents from hiring based on if a candidate is a robot or not.

"Your application pool is going to be tainted by your recruiting techniques if you only look for robots," said Marge Sassoon, a staff attorney for the National School Boards Association. "The real way to get more robots into teaching is to change the societal norms and structure of the profession. And to build as many robots as possible."

One of Marty's three robot teachers, fifth-grade teacher XLC-450, got into the field because he

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