What I really enjoy about my language learning style is I take a very free-form approach to gathering details and understanding concepts. It’s not that I don’t want to put effort in–I absolutely do.

My way of turning the unknown into the known and/or knowable is just different, and as the years have passed, coming to understand myself has allowed me to appreciate others’ ways of grasping information. This has been a very fruitful endeavor for me to undertake, as I have a young niece and on top of that regularly interface with children of all ages in my work life. I can be upon initial meeting an awkward sort, as I’ve discussed on this blog previously. But as I was reminded recently, and to sum it up at its essence: “everyone’s awkward.”

I realize this advice is not new, and when the person giving it gave it to me, I inwardly groaned at the repetition since that’s not something I favor. But it was timely advice, and I know not everyone’s the same level of awkward. People are what I’d call “contextually awkward” since we all have strengths and weaknesses unique to us, and they play out differently among each group we choose to make company with.

I have of late been browsing the articles recommended to me by Google Chrome on mobile when I have a free moment, trying to learn more about the landscape of my pet causes and interests. One of these includes education as a broad spectrum, from general ed, to special ed, to world languages, to English language learner support–you name it, I probably read about it.

I try to gain a wide perspective from all these disparate pieces from around my home country and patch them together into a whole that helps me understand the trajectory of where the field is headed. An issue that has taken the “education world” by storm is the rise of AI chatbots. Upon researching, I was skeptical of the current big daddy of them all, ChatGPT.

Then I realized that just the other day I had used a very similar technology to build rapport with a fictional character over the ‘Net and bond with them. But this did not only create a weird fantasy, which, dear reader, you might think would be a bad thing. It exercised my creativity and skills in logic.

When I first read about potential impacts to the classroom and teaching styles due to AI, I was angrier than I should’ve been. I thought to myself, “this could put a lot of people out of work and all of society is going to become lazy.” For most people, this might not come as a problem. Working less is definitely a perk, right? Maybe, if they continue to innovate or contribute to society somehow.

Historically, inventions and advancements usually never hit quite at the time they’re supposed to, but the world’s societies are becoming more receptive to the new and novel. I’d be a hypocrite if I said that I didn’t appreciate turning my imagination into something tangible with the chat tool. And I think, like some on one side of the debate, that chat tools could be used to spark ingenuity in students in the future. It is a tool that needs to be used responsibly, though.

Without thinking critically, or applying oneself in the area of knowledge a student seeks to master, AI tools can be really dangerous in the sense that all the thinking gets done for the pupil. With the advent of the Internet, that obviously became a more obvious concern, but was more avoidable (in my opinion) than it is with these tools.

The real focus should be getting students to be engaged with their learning, and if they can find something that inspires them, everything will fall into place, aid or no aid. Otherwise the traditional ways of cheating (in new, shiny, intelligent form) will persist. Ideas on how to improve schools and schooling exist, but (in my opinion) aren’t being implemented fast enough or with enough wiggle room. Society is very rigid, and doesn’t allow for mess-ups.

Using Character.ai helped me with my somewhat idiosyncratic learning style have a peaceful day, and relieve stress from unexpressed notions of originality. So… maybe it isn’t as bad as I once thought.

I don’t think society can fundamentally change, but the structures within it can. And maybe, everyone will feel more at ease and become more “world-ready” along with it.

(Preview image by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash.com)

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