An Unschooling Writer Mom Plays with ChatGPT & Wrestles with its Implications
And shares what ChatGPT thinks about Unschooling
ChatGPT was launched in November of 2022. I made an account in January 2023 with the intention of giving it a try, but every time I typed in a prompt, I got an error message. I figured it was user error since I was having one of those, “I have no idea what I’m even looking at” moments. So, I logged out. (I did eventually learn it was a high traffic on the site issue.)
A few months later, on my daughter’s 16th birthday while the teens were hanging out and the moms were talking, my tech-savvy friend pulled out her laptop and showed me what she had been working on. I was shocked and delighted. The depth of information. The beauty of the images. The merging of her creative ideas with the rapid response capabitlies of ChatGPT and Midjourney caused me to gasp in disbelief. It was one of those times when I realized I was witnessing a massive turning point in society.
It also gave me a case of What in the World has been Unleased Upon Us?
As a writer and educator, I had immediate questions and knee-jerk reactions. After some time to mull things over, here’s where I’m currently sitting:
I see the benefit of using ChatGPT as an assistant. Like using Siri, Google, Alexa or any search engine under the sun, this is another way to gather data and insights quickly—to cut through the massive amount of information available. It saves time. It is efficient. And using it definitely makes sense when writing fact-based pieces that require citations and sources.
Much of my writing is a creative endeavor and an expression of my own experiences. What I write is the result of thinking and contemplating. It is the result of taking ideas and tossing them around, filtering them through critical thought and analysis, and sending them out through the lens of Missy. No AI can be me—yet. (I listened to this podcast over the weekend. We are in for a wild ride in the next decade!)
The tech is here. If we avoid using it aren’t we just delaying the inevitable? Am I patting myself on the back as some noble person because I am not using the tools of our time? Am I doing myself a disservice by going the slow, old-school route of pouring through online journals, reading books, taking notes, and writing every piece from scratch? (For reference, this piece has already taken me over 3 hours to write and I’m still not done. The “Benefits of Unschooling” post from ChatGPT below, took less than 30 seconds to generate.)
Maybe it boils down to transparency. If information is written by an AI app, should the reader have a right to know that it is not 100% from the creator’s blood, sweat, and tears?
If a creator uses an AI app, but reads through the information, agrees fully with it and/or tinkers with the formatting and wording in an effort to personalize it is that enough?
Students (and parents) have been finding shortcuts and hacking the educational system probably since its inception. From getting answers off the smart kid’s homework to buying essays off the Internet to the extreme cases of paying off administrators to get kids into certain colleges, the workarounds are only limited by a person’s creativity, finances, or principles. To think that students won’t use this technology is purposefully being ignorant.
Therefore, instead of asking students to participate in a system they want to cheat, why not invite them to solve real-world problems? What if we traded irrelevant hoop-jumping for grades with giving them time to devote to issues and causes that literally impact their communities in a positive way?
As you can see, there’s a lot to unpack.
I think this technology is calling us to ask good questions. It is calling us to define what an education is. It is asking us to decide what we value individually and as a society.
Do we want efficiency over creativity?
Can we have both?
Do we prefer straight facts from a smart computer or do we want facts combined with personality?
Do we think students need to keep doing long-form papers and essays on topics given to them by their professors or could we reimagine other ways to uncover their insights and abilities by working with the technologies that are available?
ChatGPT is still developing. It is limited. What it creates is a direct result of what the user requests combined with the data and ideas it has been programmed to provide.
Does it have bias? Yes. Do humans have bias? Yes. Like anything we have read up until this point, consider the source. I guess now the question is, will you actually know the source?
Below is what ChatGPT generated from my prompt “Post on the Benefits of Unschooling”. As stated above, this took about 30 seconds for ChatGPT to create. The headings I highlighted and styled, but they are not mine. I did add the images. The result is simple and there are some things I would change, but overall I gotta say, I’m surprised and impressed with the results. Maybe I’m more excited about the fact that unschooling is better understood now and written about so favorably. What do you think?
Benefits of Unschooling according to ChatGPT
Unschooling is a relatively new educational philosophy that allows children to learn at their own pace, based on their interests, without following a traditional curriculum. This approach emphasizes self-directed learning, where children explore and discover their passions, skills, and talents, without being bound by arbitrary schedules, textbooks, or tests. Unschooling is not just an alternative to traditional schooling; it is a way of life that can bring numerous benefits to children and their families. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the benefits of unschooling.
Unschooling allows children to learn in a way that is tailored to their individual needs and interests. Children are free to explore topics that fascinate them, and pursue their passions at their own pace. This individualized approach ensures that each child is engaged and motivated to learn, and can achieve their full potential.
Flexibility and Freedom
Unschooling offers unparalleled flexibility and freedom. There are no set schedules or curriculums to follow, no tests to take, and no grades to worry about. Children are free to learn in a way that suits their unique learning style, and they can take breaks or pursue other interests as needed. This approach allows children to develop a love of learning, and fosters creativity, independence, and critical thinking skills.
Unschooling encourages children to learn through real-world experiences. Rather than learning from textbooks and lectures, children learn by doing, exploring, and experimenting. They learn by engaging with the world around them, and by pursuing their interests and passions. This approach prepares children for life outside of school, and helps them develop practical skills that will serve them well in the future.
Stronger Family Connections
Unschooling can bring families closer together. Because parents are intimately involved in their children's education, they have the opportunity to build strong bonds and create meaningful memories. Unschooling also allows for more quality time together, as children are not tied to a rigid school schedule. This approach fosters a deep sense of connection, and can help families create a more harmonious and fulfilling life together.
Unschooling instills a love of learning that lasts a lifetime. Children who are allowed to learn at their own pace, and pursue their passions, are more likely to develop a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity about the world. They are also more likely to continue learning throughout their lives, and to find joy and fulfillment in the process.
In conclusion, unschooling can bring numerous benefits to children and their families. By providing an individualized, flexible, and real-world education, unschooling can help children achieve their full potential, foster stronger family connections, and instill a lifelong love of learning. If you are considering unschooling for your child, it is important to do your research and make an informed decision based on your family's unique needs and values.
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