About Me

My photo
A concerned member of the human race

Sunday, November 2, 2014

On Robots, Marathons, the Teaching Profession and John Henry's Hammer

I ran into a robot the other day.  She's a humanoid with a human name; yet, she is not a human.  I watched her tell a class with rapt attention the story of Star Wars.  She used special effects.  She had music, animation and a wide range of sound effects.  Children programmed the robot to stand up, wave and say, "welcome to my school."  That was way cool.

I have nothing personally against robots, especially since they are not persons.  I was as fascinated as the next person.  I certainly couldn't do as good a job telling the story of Star Wars.  But, in that respect, neither am I as good as a TV set.  I liked the fact that one has to think logically in order to program a robot.  

Yet, I wondered if this robot would replace me in the classroom one day.  I also wondered how long this robot might keep the attention of high-school students before one of them grew weary and sought a way to disable her.  

On this marathon Sunday, I think it worth mentioning that the robot had a pretty severe flaw in my opinion.  Of course, it is one that may be overcome by time and technology (which wait for no man).  The robot needs to sit down and cool her circuits regularly, lest she overheat.

I'm proud to note, even as a humble human being, that I ran the NYC marathon five times, through years with snow on Staten Island and rainstorms across the City.  Each time, I finished the race, never once overheating, not even during the brutal months of summer training.  I almost froze to death waiting for the start a couple of times on Staten Island though!  Even more amazing, after each race I managed to make the long and awkward descent to the subway despite apparent rigor mortis.  Each of those five years, I marched off to work the following Monday morning, stood up all day, smiled and taught kids with only a rare brag about my time.    

And, in the same spirit, I did a my ten-mile run this past Saturday morning.  If you live in NY, you may have noticed that it was raining a bit.  Although my circuitry may have rusted with time, it was still working.  And as music is usually the motor that moves me, I let my I-pod pick whatever it wanted from my rather large and diverse library.  Somewhere about nine and three-quarters miles along, it settled on Johnny Cash's "The Legend of John Henry's Hammer."                                                                  

John Henry said, "I feed four little brothers
And baby sister's walkin' on her knees
Did the Lord say that machines oughtta take the place of livin'?
And what's a substitute for bread and beans? I ain't seen it
Do engines get rewarded for their steam?"                                   

John Henry said to his captain," A man ain't nothin' but a man
But if you'll bring that steam drill round, I'll beat it fair and honest
I'll die with my hammer in my hand but I'll be laughin'
'Cuz you can't replace a steel drivin' man"

Or a teacher...so long as teachers have been blessed with the truly human sentiment of really caring about their students!

No comments:

Post a Comment