Changing our schools so that we can work alongside Artificial Intelligence

Schools have perpetuated the idea of Artificial Intelligence, long before AI existed.

Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly present in our lives from virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa to predictive algorithms which often guide us through questions when we visit a website. With the onset of language AI models such as Chat GPT, AI can promise positive affects but there are real concerns about its potential impact on society, including the possibility of job displacement, privacy violations and even existential risks.

One reason why the onset of Artificial Intelligence is so unnerving for many people is that the definition of intelligence as perpetuated by an out-of-date schooling system, values the ability to pass exams over focusing on more holistic competencies of human nature. Intelligence is not simply a matter of processing information or performing well on standardized tests, but rather, as Ken Robinson explored, a ‘dynamic and multifaceted construct that is unique to each individual.’ He emphasized the importance of cultivating diverse forms of intelligence and encouraged pupils to pursue their passions and interests, rather than forcing them to conform to a predetermined set of standards and expectations.

Pupils who can do well in current traditional schools in terms of being able to navigate the system and achieve high grades are often described as ‘clever’ or ‘bright’, but intelligence is something different.

A holistic approach to intelligence recognizes the value of several skills and competencies that are essential for success in many aspects of life including communication, emotional intelligence, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability and social awareness.

Pupils who are able to be part of a learning community that values self-direction and democracy are better equipped to navigate complex social and technological environments, engage in meaningful relationships, pursue fulfilling careers, and make positive contributions to their communities and society as a whole. A holistic approach to education recognizes that intelligence is not a fixed trait, but rather a set of skills and competencies that can be developed and refined over time through experience and reflection.

When schools adopt a holistic view of intelligence, children can grow to become the masters of AI, rather than just fearing the potential threat. They can harness its power to augment their own intelligence and enhance their ability to solve complex problems, create new knowledge, and improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

It’s time for schools to stop focusing on measuring ‘what’ students need to know and to turn towards providing an environment where they allow them to be and explore ‘who they are’.

AI need not be a threat to humanity. If we focus our education system on a ‘competency based’ approach where we trust children to forge their own unique journeys; where we trust them to take control of their own lives and learning and where we as educators stop the myth that intelligence is the ability to pass tests, then we can gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between AI and human intelligence and work towards alleviating some of the fears surrounding this rapidly evolving technology. We need to continue to evolve as humans along side it. As Ken Robinson so eloquently said:

“Intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct. It can’t be reduced to a score on a standardized test. And Education is not a mechanical system; it’s a human system. It’s about people, people who either do want to learn or don’t want to learn”. 1.

©Ben Kestner April 203

  1. Robinson, K, (2015), Creative schools: The grassroots revolution that’s transforming education. Viking (P.38)

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