Monday, January 8, 2024

I'll tell you what's unethical (a rant)

Ah, the great ethical quandary of our times in education – the use of AI! Picture this: earnest educators standing as the last bastion of traditional wisdom, decreeing “Thou shalt not use AI,” with a fervor that's almost admirable, if it weren't so quaintly misplaced. This isn't just a classic case of misunderstanding technology; it's like watching someone trying to ward off a spaceship with a broomstick.

Now, let's talk about restrictions. In education, where reason should reign supreme, the rationale for any restriction must be more substantial than "because it’s always been this way." When an educator waves the flag of prohibition against AI, one can't help but wonder: where’s the logic? It’s a bit like saying you shouldn’t use a calculator for fear it might erode your abacus skills.

Here's a thought to ponder: the only justifiable ground for restricting AI use in education is if, and only if, it hinders the development of a foundational skill – one that's essential for crafting more complex abilities required for advanced learning. And, let’s not forget, the burden of proof rests with the person setting the limits. Which skill, exactly, is prevented from being developed by the use of AI? If you can explain it to students, then yes, be my guest, ban away.

AI is a very good tutor. Yes, it makes mistakes sometimes, but it is infinitely patient and always available, no appointment necessary. No need to be embarrassed when asking for the umpteenth example to illustrate an elusive concept. To withhold this resource from students isn't just a tad unethical; it's like hiding the key to a treasure chest of knowledge and saying, “Oops, did I forget to mention where it is?”

So, what's ethical and what's not in this grand AI debate? Anything that facilitates learning and growth is a big yes in the ethical column. Casting aspersions on AI without a valid reason or depriving students of its benefits is unethical.

The larger, real question we should be asking is this: What defines ethical practice in education? Is it clinging to the past because it’s comfortable, or is it embracing the future and all the tools it brings to help our students soar? At the end of the day, what’s truly unethical is anything that hinders progress under the guise of misguided caution. After all, isn't education all about unlocking doors, not closing them?

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