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Non-rote Tasks Just Got More Rote

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) is getting better and better. It seems that now an advanced AI program, GPT-3, can write a decent high school essay on say, Clara Barton. (Read Seth Godin’s blog about GPT-3.) Leaving aside the dilemma that raises for teachers about what to assign and how to assess it, the advancement of AI has huge ramifications for what we need to be teaching students.

If AI can now do tasks that we used to think we needed people to do--write a decent essay--we need to prepare our students to do tasks that AI cannot do and will not be able to do for the foreseeable future.

It seems to me those tasks will center on creativity and integrating areas that at first blush seem incompatible. Deciding that your phone should also be a computer cannot be done by AI. Neither can visualizing that the biggest store in the world would have no walls, but would deliver goods in a truck that has a smile (or is that an arrow?) on its side.

These kinds of creative leaps and then creating a long term plan to actualize the creativity is what the future of fulfilling jobs looks like.

However, schools are still preparing students for a world where being capable at convergent tasks is the road to success. We still look for right answers and still look for students to fit into our formula of success.

It is time to stop assigning the same paper to all; it is time to stop expecting everyone to know the same things. It is time for school to become a creative place where students can chase passions and creativity and produce things that have never been produced before.

While that makes school less orderly and makes teachers jobs more complex (but more fun, I would argue), it needs to be done because as AI redefines what a rote task is, our students need to be able to do things that are needed and cannot be mass produced.


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