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There is No New Thing Under the Sun – Including with AI

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

There is a reason that I am starting a blog about modern artificial intelligence with a quote from the ancient Book of Kohelet/Ecclesiastes. Because while the latest with AI seems to change every single day, the basic principles of good education remains the same.

To be clear, lots of what is happening now is not “good education.” Much of education is long overdue for change. Parts of education need a complete overhaul.

And, at the same time, core tenants of education, aimed at doing what is best for students, can and should remain a grounding space for us through this and any disruption – keeping students at the center and considering our next steps through that lens.

1. Good pedagogy is still good pedagogy.

While we are still pretty new into our journey with generative AI, I feel very confident in saying that it will never replace good teachers and good teaching.

AI will not replace authentic forms of assessment. It may and should make writing papers and taking tests obsolete, but we will still need to assess student learning through authentic assessments such as performance assessments and application of learning into the real world.

AI will not replace student-centered teaching. It may and should replace lectures and extensive reading assignments and worksheets, but we will still need teachers to facilitate the journey for students and help them to become the best possible versions of themselves.

AI will not replace the need for differentiation and addressing the different needs of different students. It may and should replace standardized learning so that students are better able to get the support and/or challenge that they need, but the needs of students will only become more varied and more specific.

AI will not replace the value of building relationships. It may and should streamline the role of educators so that they have more time and bandwidth to focus on the human beings in front of them in ways that only humans can, but the human aspect of teaching will only become more important.

2. Literacy skills are still critical for our students to learn.

While we can debate all day whether or not our students still need to be learning cursive (big “no” from me), basic reading skills are and will continue to be essential (yes, phonics), as are other literacy skills, though some with a redefinition.

AI will not replace the skill of writing. It may and should redefine what writing skills are needed, including focusing on crafting a prompt for ChatGPT, for example, and engaging in discourse with the chatbot to get the best response.

AI will not replace the importance of developing an argument and backing it up with proof. It may and should make us rethink the format we use to teach that, shifting away from a five-paragraph essay, for example, and looking towards real-world examples that students will use.

AI will not replace the value of strong research skills. It may and should emphasize the need for us to ensure our students know how to examine all information for accuracy and bias.

AI will not replace the need to be able to listen to one another. It may and should show that listening to listen rather than to respond or argue is one of the more human skills we need to cultivate.

3. Our goals are still at the center.

While AI is powerful and pervasive, humans are still in control of when and how it’s used, and the best possible way to use this technology is by working towards your goals.

Now is the time to really examine your guiding documents and philosophies, ensuring alignment and sustainability.

Now is the time to rethink and articulate the skills, content, and dispositions that you are teaching to ensure they align with what students need.

Now is the time to consider the human aspects of education that can’t be replaced by AI and lean into them.

Now is the time to open yourself up to “what might be?”

Then think about where AI comes into play for you.

By really staying focused on what we know is good education, we can use that as a lens as we navigate an AI world, always staying focused on what is best for students.

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