To AI or Not to AI – THAT Is the Question!

To AI or Not to AI – THAT Is the Question!

Many of you have heard the news – AI is here and it’s not going away!  In fact, many of your teens have come home from high school commenting on how their teachers have warned against even thinking about trying ChatGPT on their high school essays.

One of my own teenagers told me, “Mom, get ready if you want me to be expelled from school if I even try ChatGPT for writing!”  Tech geeks and programming experts are racing to develop software to detect the use of AI in student writing and education experts could not be more divided on their opinion of the use of AI in school. 

Could AI Actually Be Beneficial For Young Writers?

What I find most interesting are the comments and thoughts from many college level professors about how AI is not only here to stay, but how this technology marks the beginning of effective teaching and learning methodologies for student writing. 

One article that stands out to me, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Why I’m Not Scared of ChatGPt: The Limits of the Technology Are Where Real Writing Begins,” gives a thorough explanation of how student learning can benefit from the use of AI. 

The author of the article, an English professor from Amherst College, comments, “But if we treat learning…as the goal of education, then generative AI looks more like an opportunity than a threat.”  Additionally, this professor continues to bring a positive spin to AI and remarks, “Far from replacing human intelligence, it will provide new starting points for some of the processes we routinely use to think. Any writers who find unbearable the blank page and blinking cursor may choose instead to put their first dogged efforts into playing with ChatGPT.” 

AI and Essays and Students

Like you, concerned parent out there, I too wrestle with finding the benefits of AI with my own teenagers and my own students’ learning development; however, given the scars of conflict within the world of education, especially the decline in student reading, writing, and critical thinking over the past decade, let alone an examination of the effects of the pandemic on student learning, I find myself more intrigued about the fruitful possibilities of AI on modern cognitive development and on effective teaching practices. 

How many of you out there can remember trying to create your thesis statement for your Catcher in the Rye essay or your Romeo and Juliet term paper?  As a writing teacher who knows students and understands the complexities and emotions swirling around in the teenage brain, I find myself pondering the benefits a tool like ChatGPT can bring to facilitate, instead of frustrate, a new emerging writer.  Specifically, I would like to attempt to test out if and how the utilization of AI in the writing process actually helps a student’s learning and ultimately helps a student advance with a piece of writing. 

New Technology Always Requires Adjustment

The emergence of new technology, if we examine educational history, usually receives rebuke and rejection in its initial phases.

Remember the outrage of bringing in the calculator, using an online dictionary – let alone “spellcheck” – and doing research “online”?  I can remember in the former high school where I taught, in the northern suburbs of Chicago, the mild negative reaction of many teachers when the district assigned an iPad to each teacher. Many senior English teachers, much to my fascination, promptly placed their new device inside their desks and quickly shut the door.  However, given the reaction of many to the potential threats ChatGPT poses to academic integrity, I understand the concerns from teachers and schools and the fear of swapping out thinking and learning completely for AI-generated thoughts. 

Now more than ever, society is looking for people to show what makes them human, both in and out of the classroom. With that knowledge, the real question is not, will AI replace education? as we know it, but instead, how can we continue to progress in society by adapting technologies to help students and to also hold onto what is good and what makes us uniquely human?

Through the Total Writing Enrichment programs currently being offered, your teen will learn to discover their own unique and authentic voice as a writer. If you are interested in 1:1 writing coaching for your teen, please click here to schedule a quick phone call. We’ll determine which program is best and your teen will be on the way to elevating those essays. 

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