Published: Jan 31, 2023 16:36:08
Updated: Jan 31, 2023 16:35:56
A recent column, “Chalk Talk: The AI Earthquake in Education,” (Recorder, 21 Jan.), is about how, like it or not, whatever new toy technology is being incorporated into the nation’s classrooms. It betrays the peculiar assumption that it must. This almost automatic reflex has greatly distorted education funding over the past two decades. It is also a time when academic performance is steadily declining. While more research is needed to determine how technology has played a role in this decline, it is clear that classroom technology has made no improvement in the education of American children. Still, the trend continues to push the latest gadgets into the classroom, and few people seem to question it.
So let’s take a look at the possibilities ChatbotGPT spewed out to the authors of last week’s article.
Idea Generation: Hold on. This is the basic task of good writing, digging into what or why you need to say it. Without original ideas, there is no reason or motivation to write. To write well, to want to write well, you have to invest in what you are saying. Finally, ideas are free to anyone who is attentive enough to read, listen, speak, and think. All of this can be done without touching the school budget.
Inspiring students’ own writing: That’s why we (hopefully) assign literature to students. It’s written by others, has proven challenging and exciting in the past, and delivers just as much today. There is an enormous amount of literature to choose from, and most schools actually still have access to them.
Correction Suggestion: ChatbotGPT spits corrections — “This one is better.” Horrifyingly, this trains children not to assert or defend what they write. Students still need opportunity, even when explicitly asked for, and must be trained to expect the opportunity to be given a ‘why’ when the teacher directs them to correct/amend. With ChatbotGPT, students are left with the option of shrugging their shoulders and going “anything goes,” choosing between adopting a potentially dubious or silly revision of the AI, or submitting the paper as-is. . If the teacher finds a problem, the two of them can fix it, while ChatbotGPT wasted everyone’s time.
Alludes to names, character situations, settings: Again, what is abandoned here is the work of imagination, inspiration, even passion, which produces writing at its best, and at worst, You lose true ownership of the final product. Writing well, and being able to think carefully enough to do so, is a skill that must be steadily rigorously practiced and given careful and prompt feedback. So what about the next essay task? Students receive a sheet of paper, a pencil, and an eraser to use in class time to write. This gives teachers a steady amount of time to observe student work and make teachers readily available to students. It also opens class time for students to discuss, complain, and sympathize with their writing work, but ultimately rejoice in the progress of the work, which is undoubtedly theirs.
ChatbotGPT offers a note that “It is up to the teacher to ultimately decide how these tools are used in the classroom.” This is not a “should I use these tools”, it’s a note, not even the conceptual world of ChatbotGPT. It needs to start inside us, and it needs to be our first and most intense question.
Stephen Hussey lives in Greenfield.