Noam Chomsky in 2011 (Photo: Andrew Rusk via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)
In a recent interview, renowned linguist and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky gave his thoughts on the rise of ChatGPT, and its effect on education. What he had to say wasn’t favorable. As more and more educators struggle with how to combat plagiarism and the use of these chatbots in the classroom, Chomsky gives a clear viewpoint. For him, the key all lies in how students are taught, and, currently, our educational system is pushing students toward ChatGPT and other shortcuts.
“I don’t think [ChatGPT] has anything to do with education,” Chomsky tells interviewer Thijmen Sprakel of EduKitchen. “I think it’s undermining it. ChatGPT is basically high-tech plagiarism.” The challenge for educators, according to Chomsky, is to create interest in the topics that they teach so that students will be motivated to learn, rather than trying to avoid doing the work.
Chomsky, who spent a large part of his career teaching at MIT, felt strongly that his students wouldn’t have turned to AI to complete their coursework because they were invested in the material. If students are relying on ChatGPT, Chomsky says it’s “a sign that the educational system is failing. If students aren’t interested, they’ll find a way around it.”
The American intellectual strongly feels like the current educational model of “teaching to test” has created an environment where students are bored. In turn, the boredom turns to avoidance, and ChatGPT becomes an easy way to avoid the education.
While some argue that chatbots like ChatGPT can be a useful educational tool, Chomsky has a much different opinion. He feels that these natural language systems “may be of value for some things, but it’s not obvious what.”
Meanwhile, it appears that schools are scrambling to figure out how to counteract the use of ChatGPT. Many schools have banned ChatGPT on school devices and networks, and educators are adjusting their teaching styles. Some are turning to more in-class essays, while others are looking at how they can incorporate the technology into the classroom.
It will be interesting to see if the rise of chatbots helps steer us toward a new teaching philosophy and away from the “teaching to test” method that has become the driving force of modern education. It’s the kind of education that Chomsky says was “ridiculed during the Enlightenment,” and so indirectly, this new technology may force schools to rethink how they ask students to apply their knowledge.
h/t: [Open Culture]
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