Published: 1/31/2023 4:36:08 PM
Modified: 1/31/2023 4:35:56 PM
The recent column “Chalk Talk: AI Earthquake in Education” (Recorder, January 21) teases the curious assumption that whatever new toy technology is thrown out has to be worked into the nation’s classrooms whether we like it or not . This almost automatic reflex has resulted in a wild slashing of education funding over the past two decades, a period that has also seen a steady decline in academic achievement. While it would take a detailed study to determine how closely technology is involved in this decline, it is clear that technology in the classroom has completely failed to improve the education of America’s children. And yet it’s still a trend to question the newest gadget into the classroom, much less money.
So let’s look at the possibilities that inspired ChatbotGPT for the author of last week’s article:
Generating Ideas: Wait a minute, that’s the basic work of good writing, digging up what or why you need to say. If you don’t have your own thoughts, you have no reason, no motivation to write. To write well, to want to write well, you need to be invested in what you are saying. Finally, free ideas come to anyone who cares enough to read, or listen, or speak, or even think about — all of which can be done without touching the school budget.
Inspire their own writing: That’s why we (hopefully) assign students literature, things written by others that were challenging and inspiring in the past and give them the same today. There are vast amounts of literature to choose from and most schools still have access to them — you know, in their libraries … already paid for.
Recommend reviews: ChatbotGPT throws out the review — “here, this is better.” The situation is terrible, this trains children not to argue or defend what they have written. Even if revision is clearly necessary, students still need an opportunity, and should be trained to expect the opportunity, to give them “why” when the teacher indicates a correction/revision. With ChatbotGPT, the choice is left to the student to pad, “whatever,” and accept the AI review that may be questionable or even too funny or turn the paper as is. If the teacher sees a problem, the two can work things out but, in the meantime, ChatbotGPT has wasted everyone’s time.
Suggesting names, character situations, and locations: Again, what is brought up here is the work of imagination, inspiration and even passion that generates the best writing, and, at worst, forfeits true ownership of the final product. Writing well, and being able to think carefully enough to do so, is a skill that requires hard, consistent practice, and careful, prompt feedback. So, what about the next writing assignment, the students get a pad of paper, pencil, and eraser and use class time to compose. This gives the teacher a fixed time to observe the students while they are working and to have the teacher as a ready resource. It also provides class time for the students to discuss the writing work, to get a grip and be thoughtful, but, finally, to enjoy the progress they see in work that is undoubtedly them alone.
ChatbotGPT notes, “Ultimately it is up to the teacher to decide how these tools should be used in the classroom” — note, not “whether these tools should be used” — not even that in a universe conceptual ChatbotGPT. It has to start being in our heads and it has to be the first and strongest question.
Stephen Hussey lives in Glasgow.