Let’s talk about the purpose of school in the face of ChatGPT disruption.
Here’s a simple yet powerful first step: students should watch lectures and explanations at home and do homework in class — no more boring worksheets.
The focus should be on asking questions, having discussions, and doing hands-on activities in class. This way, students can discuss and question what they’ve learned, be graded on their contribution, and show up ready.
This approach encourages young people to take the initiative and think deeply about what they are learning (and are interested in pursuing). School is already failing, and this is what, I believe, ChatGPT threatens. It can potentially encourage more unengaged thinking and makes it all the easier to “get it done” without real learning and investment.
Speaking specifically of writing, I assert that we no longer need mediocre essays. ChatGPT can write mediocre essays for you in seconds. Let’s ditch the essay altogether. Instead, let’s teach young people to write thoughtfully about what matters to them — no more essay assignments for a grade the teacher doesn’t want to read. Mediocre writing is one of the first things AI will replace. Remember that writing is life work, not desk work. Let’s teach and learn accordingly.
I hear the fear in many conversations about ChatGPT and AI in general. I think the proliferation of AI will create a need for people who can bring insight and gumption to exciting problems. For now, that is uniquely human, and perhaps a first step to developing that kind of people is restructuring the school day to emphasize this need. This will help students shift their attitude from “Will this be on the test?” to using their education as a platform for positive change in their small domain.