The Future of Writing

In the last couple of weeks, I stumbled across two articles from The Atlantic,The College Essay Is Dead,” the byline: “Nobody is prepared for how AI will transform academia,” and then “The End of High School English.” Part of me feared reading what I already knew. With artificial Intelligence, who needs intelligence? Who needs teachers? If technology can do the students’ work, why would I waste my time grading it? And how would I even know if students are doing their own work unless all writing is completed in class, handwritten, no devices? Where’s the grading app for teachers? The whole dilemma is above my paygrade…

I’ve joined the revolution. First, I signed up for ChatGPT and told it what I wanted. Within seconds the app spit out an 18-line poem, not exactly a sonnet, but with the time saved in creating the thing, I could easily delete one stanza to fulfill my own request.

My apologies for wasting your time with bot-created poetry. I for one have little patience for wasted time…

Next semester I’ll have 191 students writing research papers, which I will grade. Heavy sigh. Anybody care to guess what percentage of my kids will use this new technology? I’ll ask for their honesty in May.

62 thoughts on “The Future of Writing

  1. I suspect your most ethical students will complete their poems and essays sans bots. They will intuitively know there’s no real short cut to anywhere worth going. For instance, it would be very difficult to earn a graduate degree in creative writing with the assistance of AI. The cheaters are getting better, but so are the people who catch them.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. You make good points, David. I don’t assign too many poems. Sometimes students write poems in groups, for fun, to summarize a text. But suddenly I’m rethinking all assignments. Sometimes, even my most ethical students make bad choices.

      Liked by 6 people

  2. I remember the olden days, where students merely copied out of an encyclopedia. When my husband was at the Naval Postgraduate School, one student was doing research on a topic. He found two sources, another student’s paper and a book on the subject. That was where he discovered the paper was the exact duplicate of the book. The student who wrote the original paper, lost his degree and probably his military career.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Oh dear, Crystal, this reality is so sad. I hear the same thing from STEM teachers; the students can find the answers somewhere and aren’t learning the skills to solve problems on their own. Having technology enable young people to think they’re doing OK and then have a sizeable chunk of graduates not be functionally literate or numerate is not only bad for them, it’s bad for society. 😥

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Wow… I struggled through so many high school essays because I had such a hard time putting ideas together in a way that made sense… that and paraphrasing has always been difficult for me. And here a whole computer program can write it all out for kids these days, imagine! I think I would prefer for my kids to struggle through the writing process and exercise their brains for a little while…

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Oh my gosh Crystal, I hear you girlfriend. I have the same fears and I am not even a teacher. It seems like the horrors of AI is creating a “dummying down” society. Scary! 😱 I connected with what you noted:

    “With artificial Intelligence, who needs intelligence? Who needs teachers? If technology can do the students’ work, why would I waste my time grading it? And how would I even know if students are doing their own work unless all writing is completed in class, handwritten, no devices?”

    Let’s hope that most of society will continue to think with their heads and not with their thumbs! Sigh! 😣😌😫

    Liked by 5 people

  6. There is such a joy when creating something. I’d be a sad puppy if someone did the creating for me. And if I were an inexperienced teenager, I wouldn’t gain the confidence you get when organizing and presenting your own thoughts. I HOPE young people understand that!

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  7. I just read the article about High School English. I also joined the AI chat! 🙂 Oh, and I teach high school English. I wonder though, if other technology will appear that will be able to distinguish if something is written by AI? It’s all at once fascinating and scary at the same time. I can’t believe you have 199 students! How do you manage? I have 140, and the grading can get oppressive. Take care!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I am currently reading Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. It’s about people who live on a planet of rock who hunt giant crabs and then use their hearts to power magical jewelry. Let’s see an AI write a book like that? Hahaha.

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  9. Just when you think humans can not be dumbed down any more, AI happens. It is not just writing, but painting, music composing, photo editing, etc. The bigger questions are 1) what jobs will disappear and what can anyone believe is real any more. Have a great Sunday Crystal. Allan

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  10. Exciting times, Crystal, with hope and dread motivating the thrill in equal parts.

    AI now exceeds humanity in fulfilling basic requirements, but it still lacks our warmth. Where is commiseration’s glow, the innovation only experience summons?

    A program may produce results, but of what service is it to a public which hasn’t equipped itself to appreciate them? Ultimately, the process is relevant only to those who delight in it. Do you exist, or do you aspire? Is life to be merely observed, or lived?

    I would hope that if anyone would be receptive to such an appeal, it would be creatives at an art-forward school, right?


  11. Teaching at a private Christian school in the typewriter days, I guided my students through writing a research paper and we talked about not copying from a book. Two girls did it anyway–so obvious. I gave them both F’s on the paper. The parents of these girls, the church secretary and another “prominent member” invited me into the church office, closed the door, and stood in front of it so I couldn’t leave. Unbelievable. What bothered me most was the parents thinking it was OK to steal intellectual property. Amazingly, administration sided with me. I was thrilled when offered a 3rd grade position and only one class of English the next year. The issues you are dancing with are ethical violations on steroids. Once again, I am happy to be retired. As a side note, I’m not going to include your AI sonnet in my anthology Best Poems of 2022.😉

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Oh boy. That sure is a challenge. No one will ever have to learn. I’m curious where the bot gets the words from. It must have had to find words humans have used for description from somewhere. This freaky. 😝

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What’s the point of using a bot? If they don’t want to be in high school, they can just drop out. The thing is, there are nice things to make stuff easier, but if it can just replace you, why would you do that?

    For example, you could just train bots at that point if your students are too incompetent and lazy to do their own work.

    What’s their reason to be alive? It’s nice to see people with wealth or doing something to get money and glory, but that’s not the only thing worth it. Why sit with all that insecurity that you’re actually not qualified and a bot is doing your work.

    It’s like cheating on someone who is a serial cheater. You got them, but who says they won’t cheat on you?

    If they can replace a person that easily, those cheaters are unnecessary in the get go and can easily be replaced.

    I would make that a point. Capitalism still needs human writers anyway, the bot doesn’t know what it isn’t fed. We work on human opinions and everyone is so different and fads go in and out of style so it’ll always need more humans to make it relevant.

    Just tell your students they’re not helping themselves cheating. I found that out the hard way in college when I actually wanted to challenge myself and still wrote like a 10th grader. (I never cheated, but I was just lazy or would skip assignments😂)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for sharing!!.. for some the technology may be useful (unable to write for some reason) and there will be those that will take advantage of the technology for their own personal gains (as they have in other areas) and in the end it is they who will pay the price… hopefully technology will evolve and help you, as a teacher, be able to deal with the technology… “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom” ( Isaac Asimov)… 🙂

    Hope you and your family have the happiest and merriest holiday and Christmas ever and until we meet again…
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is such a big issue, and I agree with all the concerns raised both in your post and through the comments above. I teach in post-compulsory education but come across many of the same issues. I think AI will replace the current plagiarism or buying of assignments – came across this with a student earlier this term. All my assessments are over a period of time and open book. I agree, we will need to spend time discussing these things with students, persuading them why these approaches aren’t appropriate. I also think we’re going to be on a steep learning curve too, keeping up with the students.

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  16. I love to write, both for myself and to share. I have noticed over the course of my lifetime the “dumbing down” (there’s really no polite way to say it) of the people I grew up with, went to school with. Even as a young child, I gravitated towards “grown-ups”, more interesting conversation. When abbreviated expressions like LOL became a thing, I held my ground (for years) and continued to not use texting jargon. The idea of using a program to create a piece of writing to pass off as my own is horrifying to me. So are the facts that cursive is not taught in schools and there are adults (I’ve met one) now who can not use an analog clock to read time. I can’t stand misspellings in publications because it isn’t professional. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get it since you’re a teacher! Thankfully all three of my children are beautiful and smart. I am blessed. It seems like my love of learning is being handed down to them. Thank God.🙏🏼 I hope they’ll be the students who honor language and writing and treat them as the amazing gifts they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is why I retired. It’s too much. It’s complicated and part two how do we actually harness these technologies as we move forward? We no long use dictionaries we Google everything. Might be an unwanted part of our future? Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

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