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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Let AI do it: High schoolers don't need to write essays any more

"Good-bye and good riddance" to teaching students to write essays, writes Daniel Herman in The Atlantic. Herman, who teaches English at a private school in Berkeley, welcomes our new robot overlords. Starting this year, he's shifting his focus from writing to reading.


His 12th-grade class spends a semester (!) reading Moby-Dick. Last year, a student spent weeks working on a research paper analyzing "whaling and the exploitations of global capitalism," writes Herman. On the day before it was due, the student watched ChatGPT produce a similar paper in seconds.


Future college students won't need to write research papers, Herman predicts. They'll have AI assistants to do that sort of thing. He's tired of teaching students how to make a claim, provide evidence for the claim, etc.


He plans to turn his class into a book club. Students will read and discuss texts, respond to prompts by writing in a spiral notebook, then turn that writing into "something to submit" that may not look like academic writing. "If the conclusion doesn’t reiterate what was expressed in the introduction, that’s okay."


"Every student is good at this sort of writing," writes the teacher. They are capable of expressing themselves "clearly and effectively, just like they would if you asked them something via text message."


I think this is like arguing that children don't need to learn how to walk because they can travel by motorized wheelchairs or flying saucers. Learning how to argue -- make a claim, support it with evidence -- is an important skill, and not just for college. Writing clearly requires thinking clearly. Texting "CU @ cafeteria" is not enough.


Years ago, someone studied if test prep improved test scores. It did not. What did improve scores, in both math and reading, was teaching writing. Why did it help in math? Apparently, students improved their reasoning skills.


By the way, an entire semester on Moby-Dick? Do they read anything else?

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訪客
2023年9月06日

This is like saying athletes don't need to lift weights any more because we can build a machine to lift them. As though lifting the weights was the point and not the muscle development.

Good grief.

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Linda Fox
Linda Fox
2023年9月06日

This could be catastrophic to the intellectual development of American students. Being able to do research, evaluate it, not just for whether or not it fits your 'narrative', but for whether its conclusions are borne out by the EVIDENCE, is a critical part of thinking. Too many students already mindlessly look for research that fits their preconceived conclusions, ignoring the other research that might contradict it.

By outsourcing that effort to ChatGPT, they accelerate the trend to deliberately avoid thinking and creating truly critical analysis of studies (not CRT, but an actually useful skill).

It would lead to dulled thinking, inability to discern whether a claim had any validity, and - eventually - any capability of resisting the Government/Corporate/Academic Hive…

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訪客
2023年9月06日

FIU bridge collapse which killed a number of people was due to poor design and not closing the streets while the bridge was being moved...


If people don't want to learn, the real problem starts when the last of the boomers and oldest Gen X population retires by 2030-2033.


A lot of knowledge will be gone at that point...

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訪客
2023年9月06日

Moby Dick, for a high school English class? Maybe for an AP class, but I would be hesitant to assign it to most classes.

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訪客
2023年9月07日
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It's a fairly expensive private school in a high SES area, so Moby Dick is probably reasonable.

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訪客
2023年9月06日

At my last job, a guy told me that there was no point in teaching kids how to write by hand in schools anymore because everything would be done electronically now.


This article is on that exact same level. The people who take this advice deserve what they're going to get.


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