I've been around for a looong time now. I've seen so many advances in technology I can't even begin to list them all. While I agree that robots are the way of the future and they have provided us with the opportunities to extend our human capabilities and provide more technical jobs for people, and that we need to have students who can apply their learning to such technologies, as many have said, there are consequences to every new technology that must be considered. I'm all for teaching students to program and become adept at technologies available to them, but I have some real concerns as well.
I've see robots replace workers in mundane jobs and I've seen how those workers had to become more educated to get "better" jobs, but I've also seen so many of them unable to get those better jobs because there are fewer "better" jobs than there were "lesser" jobs or because younger, (more energetic?) people are selected either conscientiously or sub-conscientiously by the few in even "better" jobs. I've seen how calculators have replaced mental capacity to multiply even something as simple as 3 x 3 without one. I've seen how educational theories have done more harm than good. For example, the idea that rote "memorization" is the least effective way to learn. My feeling is that memorization is a training exercise for people to learn how to remember - if there is always something else that will do it for them, why bother remembering anything? We can just Google it, right? Without the synapses developed by the act of memorization, there is little way for a "connection" to take place between what is seen or read and what is remembered and applied to new problems. As shown in the video clip of War Games, even the computer had to "physically" play the game to learn. Why do we think learning is done any differently by humans?
The obesity rate in America is at its worst partly because we do have so many robots/machines to do our physical labor and make our lives "easier". We live in an "information age" society - one that does not require physical activity other than that our fingers get by clicking a mouse or typing in data to do most of the jobs today. I still remember the old commercials on TV about the "future" and how computers and robots would help us be more productive in a shorter time and free us up for more leisure time, instead they have just made it possible for us to do more work outside the office and outside of office hours that our leisure time is no longer leisurely, but is interrupted by emails and texts from our bosses and clients that require us to be "on duty" 24/7 (and I might add, during time for which most are not paid).
Don't get me wrong, I do believe we need to teach kids how to problem solve, how to think critically and analytically and that programming robots is a great way to do that, but I also believe that somewhere in the process we've lost sight of the fact that the physical activity of having a real concrete problem to solve (without technology) where "necessity is the mother of invention" is needed for most students to make the physiological connections necessary to apply it to programming and computer science to solve even bigger more abstract problems. I think we've skipped that "walking" before we "run" step and it is our responsibility as teachers to be sure they have that as well. Great runners didn't skip walking, and many were "late" walkers, possibly because they needed that extra time on task to allow their brains to really dive into the problem of walking and how to apply the solution to running to make it even better.
In my "perfect" world, as technology and the required knowledge to produce it increase, we would not force students to learn more, sooner, by skipping the necessary physiological steps and expecting them to absorb and process all this information (that requires prior knowledge not acquired yet) in the same 12 years that our forefathers did before technology. While some students can excel even when they do skip steps, most cannot, and so they become less and less enthralled with the whole process of "learning". Yes we learn easier when we are younger, but there are still physiological processes that must occur and they don't happen at the same rate or in the same way for everyone. We need to recognize that more. Programming robots provides that "physical" concrete problem to solve leading to data that provides more abstract problems to solve using the skills learned.
Our mission as I see it is to produce students with the full background knowledge needed to produce technology that provides us not only with services but that which forces us to look at the whole picture, take in the necessary information and solve problems in new ways that better human society and humans in general rather than remove the need to think and work to learn and ignore the consequences it may have. Programming provides a tool for part of that mission, the rest comes from good old hard work, time and training and for some trial and error.
If you read all of this...thank you. I know I got off topic a bit, but it is a real concern I have that is linked to this topic and I don't feel we can ignore it.