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OPINION

ChatGPT Exposes Weaknesses in Our School System

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

Schools have been abuzz with discussion about the release of ChatGPT. The online program from the company OpenAI has introduced unknown challenges to workplaces and classrooms. ChatGPT stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. Type a question or topic into the chat box, and the program will return information. The chat can perform more complex functions, like writing a letter to your boss or even spitting out a passing AP Lit essay.

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OpenAI, which runs ChatGPT, is backed by Sam Altman, tech celebrity Elon Musk, and Bill Gate’s Microsoft, among others. The stated mission of the group is to ensure that artificial intelligence “benefits all of humanity.” Within months of the program’s launch, there are a flurry of questions about cybersecurity risk, factual inaccuracies, and potential problems with ChatGPT. For moms, a key question is: What will ChatGPT do to students in American classrooms? 

Before we can address that important question, it is time to take an honest look at how our education system is teaching our children. For years, moms have been calling attention to the detrimental practice of teaching to a test. Instead of empowering our kids to implement skills and understand concepts that apply to the real world, too many of our schools have become sidetracked with short-term memorization to pass the test. Moms want to foster the retention of skills that lead to life-long learning, not passing an exam.

One of the biggest shortcomings of this type of education is the lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. When students are not challenged to learn how to learn and are instead simply given a set of answers to memorize, they are not growing in the ability to comprehend what they are learning or apply it to real life situations.

At the same time academic standards have declined, our society has ceased to foster a strong sense of personal responsibility. This attitude bleeds into the classroom. Children are no longer taught that their actions have consequences, and we instead place blame on unseen “systems.” Anyone who has worked in schools in recent years and many parents will tell you that we have a high rate of behavioral problems in the classroom. A lack of real-world learning coupled with a decline in personal responsibility means that far too many of our students are bored and undisciplined.

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This sad state of the American classroom has led to a mass exodus of experienced teachers, bus drivers, coaches, and mentors. Many moms are turning to homeschooling to ensure that their children have the opportunity to develop character in addition to passing the test. We cannot have an educated civic body without the development of virtue based on personal responsibility and growth.

ChatGPT has brought these issues to the forefront in a new way. Many educators are rightly concerned with the widespread availability of an emerging technology program that generates complex answers without students doing any of the work. Instead of thinking through a paper on a complex topic, students can get an AI-generated essay with minimal effort. And teachers are having trouble spotting the fakes. We are encouraging academic dishonesty and giving students access to a highly sophisticated form of plagiarism.

In order for our students to thrive—and in turn, our nation to thrive—we need to build a firm foundation of honesty, self-respect, critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and a strong work ethic. Academic integrity is not possible without a moral compass, and it is time we ensure that American classrooms reflect this.

It’s important to remember that ChatGPT will only be as dangerous as we allow it. When people use ChatGPT, they are training the program in human thought, and it gets smarter than us with every human interaction. Moms for America believes strongly that schools have a responsibility to prohibit the use of ChatGPT in an academic setting. When it is found to be used for classwork and assignments, there should be serious consequences.

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When our schools reward students for hard work and personal responsibility, we prepare students to achieve in life. Our nation was founded on principles of liberty that require virtue and accountability. If we do not raise our children with a strong sense of purpose and self-respect, they will not have the formation to resist the abuse of emerging technology. We need to teach our students that you cannot outsource thinking. The future of America depends on it.

 

 

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