I sat there, all surprised, while my brain raced in many directions.
There were so many implications to what I just heard.
However, one thought shined in my mind like a neon light – Wow, my son is so clever.
But let's go back to the beginning of this story.
It all started in a morning conversation I had with my youngest son. I asked him what was happening at school today, and he said they are tested in all subjects as part of the start-of-the-year assessments. (In Australia, the school year starts in February)
Then each one of us went about our day, and in the evening, during dinner, we had a chance to talk about our daily experiences and adventures. So I used this opportunity to ask my son about his day at school and all the assessments he had to do.
Then, something surprising emerged.
My 13-year-old boy told me that some of his friends had used AI for the assessments. They placed the question as input to the AI and received an answer, which they then wrote on the assessment test as their own. This is how they completed their assessments in English, Math and Science. (If you haven't guessed already, all students work with a laptop at my son's school and do their schoolwork this way.)
I smiled at the cleverness of this generation. These children were born into this world of technology, and they know how to use it to their advantage.
Then I asked my son if he is using AI at school.
He then told me that AI had been writing his homework for a year now.
He shared that whenever he needs to write an essay or a paragraph on something, he will copy that information either from his schoolbook (if it is history related, for example), or get it from another source, place this information as an input for AI, and receive a written piece, that is different than the original. (to avoid plagiarism)
And that's it; his work is done!
So I sat there with the thought that from the age of 12, my son was using AI to do his schoolwork for him. And this is only the beginning. As AI keeps developing, more children from across the globe will learn how to use it to their advantage.
They will learn to live side-by-side with Artificial Intelligence and make the most of what it can offer.
This conversation cemented everything I believe in regarding the role of our education system in our world.
We can't bury our heads in the sand anymore, as it is hurting our children and us.
The first question we need to ask ourselves is – what is the purpose of our education system?
And if we agree that the purpose is to help our children become happy, well-rounded people who have developed the skills required to thrive in our world, then the next question would be-
What skills do they need to succeed in the 21st century?
And then, the follow-up question would be – how do we provide them with a learning environment where they grow as confident, happy people that develop these skills?
We can do better.
There is a way forward without waiting for politicians and bureaucrats to design an education system suitable for our children's needs in the 21st century.
We can make it happen. Yes, you and me.
I have seen it with my own eyes.
Within our public schools, even with all the policies, red tape and standardised testing, we have the power to teach differently. We have the autonomy to create a learning environment where our children are empowered, have a voice and agency over their learning and enjoy coming to school.
We can design learning experiences where our children become confident in their capabilities, excellent problem-solvers, creative thinkers, critical thinkers, great communicators and collaborators.
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