Matthew Piercy, Global Educator, Hawaii Preparatory Academy & Author

Matthew Piercy teaches two courses for Global Online Academy and is also a grade 12 teacher at Hawaii Preparatory Academy. His experiences in the classroom include every grade from 3rd to 12th. He also enjoyed a stint as an instructional coach. Matthew has worked in international and boarding schools for over twenty years. Thailand, Tunisia, Ecuador, Hungary, Hawaii, along with the states of Colorado and Georgia all at some point were called “home.” Matthew also enjoys leading summer expeditions for National Geographic, to destinations like Iceland and Cambodia. A diverse pathway in life has led to Matthew’s passion for global mindedness and he constantly is searching for ways to enhance learning, meaning, and transference. 


Have you been botted? Botted is a term I thought I coined but later found out already exists. It refers to being victimized by a bot. Specific to education, plagiarism. With Google’s Bard following on the heels of ChatGPT, the world is rife with discussion about the impact of chatbots. 

Whether we like it or not, there is no going back. 

What Going Forward Might Entail

Since the future likely will see an increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence and automation, we might be wise in education to consider what this might mean to us. First and foremost, it is reasonable to begin to question the very veracity of what we are asking students to do. Most especially, if a bot can complete it. A bot, or computer program operating to simulate a human activity, which likely cannot only complete the task or assignment but can do so more efficiently and possibly of higher quality. Accepting this fact or reality means it is high time for educators to consider the “why,” or purpose, of everything they ask students to do. This means even more precedence will need to be placed on personalization, critical thought, and creativity. The higher echelon of Bloom’s Taxonomy, while we leave the “remembering” and “understanding” to bots. Case in point, how many friends’ phone numbers would you be able to dial up?

Understanding the next in technology, the value and possibly integrating them seems the wisest approach.  Jocelyn Gecker of Fortune Magazine shares how several teachers are navigating this “new world” and why we must prepare students for an AI future. One example provided is when a teacher asks students to “Find the Bot.” Gamifying likely results in even greater engagement, as students are pitted against the machine. “Each student summarized a text about boxing champion and Kentucky icon Muhammad Ali, then tried to figure out which was written by the chatbot.” More than mere novelty, the teacher later deconstructs the lesson with students, and learners can identify how the “game” helps with proper summarization skills, capitalization, and the use of commas. Furthermore, students engage in conversation around a writer’s voice and “how some of the chatbot’s sentences lacked flair or sounded stilted.”

Other educators, districts, and even governments were in opposition from the start. Los Angeles Unified School District and New York City public schools were quick to simply ban ChatGPT. A Forbes article on 23 January 2023, titled, ChatGPT In Schools: Here’s Where It’s Banned—And How It Could Potentially Help Students,details the disruption but also disagreement about how such technological tools could be used or abused.  

Whether we like it or not, there is no going back.   

Creativity as Opposed to Conformity

More people have viewed Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity,” than there are citizens of France. If these viewers made up their own country, they would be in the top 20 for most populous in the world. 17 years have passed since the Talk was published and in many ways, we continue to play Education by the same rules. Rules which have their roots in a mid-19th-century framework built on compulsory and compliance. A system predicated upon the rise of industrialization and a sped-up economy demanding reading, writing, and math skills. Robinson contended, “creativity now is as important in education as literacy.” Creativity as opposed to conformity. And creativity can be difficult, some would say impossible, to subjectively assess. So, schools seemingly hold fast to systems for evaluating, and also ranking students and their performance. These attempts to standardize however were not in effect until the early 20th century. 

Looking Upon the Future with Wisdom and Excitement

A colleague shared how she sometimes finds herself straddling two seemingly very different realities. Sort of like the two-horse act where the rider has a foot upon each horse. Only in this case, three-quarters of her profession and curriculum follow the traditional approach and where the standard A-F grading approach is taken. Whereas, the other quarter is a grade 12 course, meant to represent the pinnacle of learning experiences. Called Senior Capstone, this course is built upon the tenets of sustained inquiry, co-designed with students, and is interdisciplinary and project-based. Further, amongst the skills given precedence would be to the likes of Sir Ken Robinson~creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. Assessment is in the form of milestones, specific points of progress, or checkpoints. Instead of the traditional system of grading, they are assessed as Advanced, Meeting Expectations, or Not Meeting Expectations.

My colleague’s dilemma is that she believes wholeheartedly where she spends a quarter of her time. Yet, students are still ensnared in the constructs of the antiquated A-F grading scale. Unfamiliar with a more competency-based verbiage, where learning is a process toward meeting expectations and beyond, the result is that students view capstone more along the lines of pass-fail. And failure would be nearly impossible. So, there is some reverberation and even alacrity in a desire to spring back to what is known. “We should just grade it like all the other classes!” Yet, she knows that would be an attempt to go back. And there is no going back.

Instead, the culture of capstone simply requires more time. Time for students to better understand the purpose. Invitational more than compliance. Time for a few years of student products to inspire and awe. Future grade 12 students will see the value and quality will ensue. It has to. How capstone is assessed will become secondary. 

Quite possibly, at some point, just one horse will be straddled. The same is true for AI. It too shall be straddled as we look upon the future with wisdom and excitement.

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