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Please enjoy the Thought for the Term from Ms Hopkins

Posted on: 26/05/2023

I am sure that many of you, like me, have been fascinated by the way advanced AI seems to have come out of nowhere and exploded into the public arena. Over the past three or four weeks I have watched YouTube videos, read magazine articles, and listened to podcasts that have focused on the remarkable things AI can do; create artwork in the style of Monet in a matter of moments, compose a song that is indistinguishable from the music written by our most gifted artists, build living self- powered robots from frog stem cells. 

The list of what can be achieved seems endless, and whether this is something that you find exciting or something that you find terrifying, the conversation about AI seems to be everywhere. So much so that I have been asked multiple times if I think AI is going to change education as we know it, if I think teachers will be replaced by AI and if I think students being taught via AI will appreciate education more. My answer, every time, has been a resounding no. 

Do I think AI has the potential to transform education as we know it? Probably. Do I think being taught via AI will make students appreciate education more? Absolutely not. Because real life teachers bring to education and classrooms something that AI will never be able to: humanity.

Education is about learning and knowledge and understanding, but it is also about so much more. It is about connection and communication and shared experiences. It is about passion and curiosity and cultivating skills. It is about expert teachers who pitch explanations so perfectly that the complex becomes simple, and it is about questions that are crafted to make you think so hard you glow with pride when you finally get the answer right.

It is not just the acquisition of knowledge that makes students appreciate education; they also appreciate the heart and soul that is poured into preparing the lessons, they appreciate the time and care their teachers gift them, they appreciate the moments of inspiration that are born of human connection in the classroom, and they appreciate the way teachers can make them feel about themselves through education.

Nowhere has this been more apparent for me recently than through the thank you messages I invited Year 11 to share with me so that they could be passed on to their teachers in a staff briefing. The messages flooded in and, without exception, they were full of heartfelt and sincere gratitude for the ways in which they had been taught over the past five years. The messages referenced care, kindness, patience, teachers who never gave up on them, teachers who inspired them, teachers who made the experience of learning joyful and teachers who believed in them when they didn’t believe in themselves.

One Year 11 student wrote: ‘I would like to thank Miss Hanna because she has completely changed my work ethic during lessons and after school when I am working at home. I think all the hard work and belief she has put into us has been incredibly motivational and has made us believe that we can do well. She has helped me want to work hard in all my other lessons. She has given me incredible opportunities, and I can’t explain how grateful I am.’

Would our Year 11 students feel compelled to write such heartfelt and sincere words of thanks if they had been educated by AI? Would they have been inspired if they were accessing education through a headset and a screen? Would they have been captivated by AI generated and delivered explanations? Would they have grown in self-belief, confidence and determination in the same way if they had been educated via AI generated information? No. Of course not.

It is the humanity within education that students appreciate and that humanity can only be brought by real life teachers.

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