Teaser Image

Teaching Machines: The History of Personalized Learning

Audrey Watters, (MIT Press 2021)

“There must be an industrial revolution in education,” psychologist Sidney Pressey wrote in 1933, “in which educational science and the ingenuity of educational technology combine to modernize the grossly inefficient and clumsy procedures of conventional education.”

We still hear claims like this today: ed-tech is poised to bring science and efficiency to schools. Teaching machines will individualize instruction, allowing students to move at their own pace through their lessons and freeing teachers from drudgery so she may focus, as Pressey argued, on more important work “developing in her pupils fine enthusiasms, clear thinking, and high ideals.”

Teaching Machines, the latest book by "ed-tech's Cassandra" Audrey Watters, chronicles the history of this century-old belief that the automation of education is necessary (and is surely coming any day now).

Buy the Book

Teaching Machines is available anywhere books are sold, including directly from the MIT Press website. If possible, support your local bookseller.

Praise for the Book

Teaching Machines, is a vital cultural history of our desire for a technical solution to the fundamentally social problem of how to make education work for all families. Watters has written the rare book that is necessary, important, and readable.” -- Tressie McMillan Cottom, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; author of Thick: And Other Essays