I lost sleep earlier this week after reading an article by some educationalists I have long admired, whose article entitled “The Future of AI in Education: 13 things we can do to minimize the damage” caused me great concern.

I have previously confessed to a lack of any great interest in information technology. However, Chat GPT has been a revelation to me and I have thoroughly enjoyed using it (I like to think judiciously and sparingly) for a number of functions. It has saved me many hours and allowed me to focus on what’s important in my job. I have also persuaded many adults to have a play with Chat GPT and others with a similar lack of IT love have found it to be extremely useful. One colleague in another school described it as the ideal assistant – you can change the criteria multiple times and ask it to redo a piece of work and it will do this instantly and without complaint.

It was therefore with some dismay that I read the article mentioned above and its serious concerns about the way forward in terms of human use of Large Language Models such as ChatGPT. It talked about ‘fake work’ involving humans working side by side with machines and about ‘transhumanism’ in which we choose to upgrade ourselves through brain-computer interfaces. In this situation, it proposed that there would no longer be any need for schools or universities because we could merely download new skills and knowledge directly into our brains.

A few days of worrying later and I had calmed down and continued to utilise ChatGPT without the world ending. But I will re-read the article this weekend, through the lens of an educator considering what we need to be aware of at school both now and in the future. It’s important to always bear in mind the need to balance tradition with innovation and essential to remember the importance of human connection. AI may provide personalised learning experiences, but nothing can (yet) replace the connections between teachers and students that ensure emotional growth. At AVѧԺ we will continue to teach our students about the ethical implications of decisions (including the use of artificial intelligence) and we will use IT judiciously and with thought. As with most things, a balanced approach is generally the most sensible way forward. I think of myself as a ‘careful adopter’, using some aspects of IT that save me time and serve a purpose, but with an approach that doesn’t automatically accept everything that is offered. As educators, our legacy lies in our ability to embrace progress whilst upholding the ethical, values-based approach that is so dear to us.

Perhaps a discussion of the merits and dangers of ChatGPT and similar Large Language Models might be an interesting conversation for the Shabbat table tonight.

Shabbat Shalom.

Julie Harris