Keep ChatGPT out of the classroom

“It's not cheating because no one else wrote it,” one of my ninth-grade students told me last May. He had used the AI tool, to compose his final essay for our freshman English class. When I explained he'd plagiarized because the words didn't convey his own ideas, he shrugged. “But a robot can do it for me in seconds,” he said. I've been teaching high school English for over 20 years, and I'm used to excuses. My favorite was a student who told me the cloud ate his homework, though I later learned he'd borrowed that quip from a New Yorker cartoon. But when my student used ChatGPT on an assignment that asked him to reflect on a role model in his life, I was worried because he'd rushed through an assignment designed for him to figure out who he is and what matters to him. School work is created for students to think for themselves, discover who they are, and improve their problem-solving skills so they can make good decisions as they get older. When they use ChatGPT, they fly through assignments and miss out on developing critical thinking skills — observing, analyzing, and making clear judgments. Get Today in Opinion Globe Opinion's must-reads, delivered to you every Sunday-Friday. Enter Email Yet teachers are often told by major media outlets and educational sites to use ChatGPT as “another tool in the teacher toolbox.” It has become a common refrain that ChatGPT is “a teaching aid” that “unlocks student creativity,” is an “after-hours tutor,” is a “debate sparring partner,” and can help students with outlines and drafts. But ChatGPT was not designed for schools. We're taking for granted students' ability to discern when and when not to use it. Today, an outline. Tomorrow, a final essay. What's more concerning, however, is how this technology has changed students' expectations school. Even before ChatGPT's arrival in November 2022, students were already speeding through school work, the better to get back to their social media feeds. Just last year, for instance, my students hurried through a class conversation about […]

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