Diana Marié Eksteen, Certified Teacher

Diana officially became a teacher in 2000, although she has memories of teaching a group of dolls in her room when she was 7-years-old; and has been working mostly as an Early Childhood Educator and Primary School Teacher in six countries, including South Africa, England, Gran Canaria (Spain), Italy, Ireland and New Zealand. She has worked with all age groups from birth to 12-year-olds and has delivered a variety of school curricula, often in tandum. She has taught in many types of schools, including state-maintained, independent, Montessori, private bilingual (Cambridge), international Apple distinguished IB (International Baccalaureate), Educate Together National Schools, Crèches and Early Childhood Education Centres. She has also worked in the capacity of a teaching assistant, childminder, supply teacher, special needs assistant, special needs teacher and online educator for shorter periods of time and has home schooled her daughter.


Someone on LinkedIn posted an article about Alice in Wonderland in relation to AI, which resulted in the author of this article, compiling a response.

In what you are about to read, the prompts were: “You are Alice.” “You are a teacher.”  (Chat GPT was not used.)

Alice was a teacher. She has seen some of the effects of technology on children and with all these AI tools suddenly available, she soon realised that it was inevitably going to filter into education more and more. Alice had to be honest with herself. This idea truly excited her, as did all the things she could previously do with her little students as an Apple teacher! She also realised that it meant that dependency on technology and on AI would increase. She was not not too sure how she felt about that yet, but she understood that she lived in that type of world now; and it was the parents who allowed it. It was the parents who put phones and games into the hands of their children and education was, of course, sure to follow. AI has now entered the world of education. Before, there used to be computers, interactive whiteboards, even iPads, but AI was now here! Personalised learning, Virtual Reality, chat bot assistants! What more could Alice want for her children?

There really ARE many advantages to learning, Alice thought to herself. Incorporating the use of technology has been very beneficial in so many ways and now AI! Students will probably even prefer it, at least for periods of time; and, whether she liked it or not, Alice knew that her students were bound to need it for their futures. She just kept having flashbacks to the negative aspects too, especially with very young children, who still struggled to understand what was real, how the online world works and how to enforce or stick to boundaries.

Alice recalled her class full of lively children, busy doing and buzzing. Then, she remembered the same class full of children, sitting still in a row staring at a screen, unable to pull themselves away from it, unless she used her Apple technology to turn off all their screens using her device controls. It was like seeing puppets being mastered by a puppeteer.

Alice knew she would need to incorporate AI and technology and she certainly knew about all the great things it could do, but she also knew that she needed to be careful with the young people’s minds and behaviours and she would have to teach them skills and how to keep the balance.

And to discern!

Alice could tell that technology and AI were entertaining, but addictive. She could tell that it was useful, but that it could also change people. She found out that research showed how social media has had many negative effects and not even the creators of AI knew what was to come. So, Alice realised that she was entering an era of uncertainty, which she was almost forced to embrace as if it was only a wonderful thing.

After teaching at a technology school, Alice taught at a rigorous, traditional school with little technology being used. To her surprise, she found that the children had longer attention spans, better listening skills and a lot of knowledge (in their heads). She introduced the technology and saw them almost instantly becoming addicted and easily going off task or being distracted and she felt as if what she was doing wasn’t right, nor needed. However, it was Alice who was the one missing the technology, having used it before. Alice also did not like standing in front of a photocopier machine, which jammed and wasted paper if she could be air dropping work or using online platforms. The benefits were real.

Alice felt as if she could accomplish so much with it so much faster. But did she, she had to wonder. Did she really? In spite of this, she constantly found herself thinking about new technology and AI ideas: “What if they could build an educational game that could teach this or do that?”, she would ask herself. Almost everything she did could be replicated in AI form, but was it wise, necessary and needed? And what was the negative side to this?

She could so very clearly see the positives or convince herself of what they were, but was anything getting lost, which she needed to perhaps treasure? If not, then she would say: “Go for it!” But she had to be sure first. AI has been introduced without important discussions relating to regulations and laws. Yet, she had no choice but to embrace it now.

Alice thought about her time in Wonderland and her finding the bottle with a label with the word poison on it. She wondered. She wondered if she was playing with something she knew too little about or getting herself deeper and deeper into something, which she really should have stayed out of.

Did she really WANT her children to be educated through VR headsets? No, not really, she thought to herself. Might her children enjoy some VR sessions? Yes, of course. (In fact, some of her children did, but they said it wasn’t that great.) Alice wondered if her children was at all worried about AI taking over the world. One child replied that we’ll run out of resources before that happens. What a sad statement, Alice thought. However, a rather relevant worldview.

Alice thought some more. We’ll embrace. We’ll discern. We’ll use our human traits and creativity, and we’ll continue to develop critical thinking skills and soft skills. We’ll continue being human. That was all that she knew for now. She looked at the bottle one last time, put it down and walked away.

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