A Chinese schoolgirl was found to be using a “writing robot” to do homework and now many students are hoping to get their own machines.
According to her mother referred by her surname Zhang, she found out that her 15-year-old daughter purchased a robot to help get her homework done during the Lunar New Year holiday.
The woman from Harbin city told local media platform Qianjiang Evening News that she was initially amazed at how her daughter managed to take only two days to finish all her text-copying homework with neat writing.
However, she would later discover the homework-writing robot while cleaning her daughter’s room. The device, which has a metal frame and pen, came with a packaging that claimed it could “imitate all sorts of handwriting”.
Her daughter later admitted to using her lai see (New Year good luck money) to purchase the item online for over 800 yuan ($120). The daughter said she used it for exercises such as copying passages from a textbook and re-writing essays.
It is reportedly a common practice in Chinese schools to require students to copy vocabulary, textbook passages, or poems hundreds of times as homework.
A variety of “writing robot” machines are currently on e-commerce platform Taobao, with prices ranging from 200 ($30) to over 1,000 yuan ($150).
The robot has a variety of fonts available and has an option that allows the user to create their own handwriting. Using an app, the user must write 6,000 Chinese characters which the robot then learns from.
Thanks to the robot, the teen had more time to travel and join in on the festivities during the long holiday.
The machine works by using a robotic arm that writes with an attached pen on paper held by its metal frame. The arm is controlled via a software from a computer connected via a USB cable.
However, Zhang was not amused by the robot, leading her to destroy the machine.
“It can help you with homework, but can it help you on tests?” Zhang was quoted by South China Morning Post as saying.
The news about Zhang’s daughter went viral on social media and generated positive reactions among students who became interested in purchasing the robot too.
Some older netizens also expressed that they wished they had owned such an item when they were students.
Meanwhile, others shared their own homework “hacks,” such as stringing three or four pens in rows so they could write multiple words at once.
There were also others who pondered over the necessity of such homework assignments, with some calling for education reform that would let teachers set challenging and creative homework rather than creating unnecessary burdens on the students.
“Sometimes educators need to reflect on this issue, why is it we still need to do a task that can be completed by a robot?” one netizen said.
Images via Taobao