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Why AI is a good thing for wonderfully wired different thinkers




My son wrote a life- science exam consisting of questions that test ‘60% recall of content taught, and 40% higher level thinking’. The student with the natural advantage in such a test is the one that easily remembers abstract facts and has a focussed brain that prioritizes efficiency.


And the student at a disadvantage is one of the 30% of learners who thinks differently, one with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, giftedness or other learning differences.


But that might have to change soon.


The escalating growth in AI may well provoke a different sort of teaching and assessment in the school of the not so distant future. Soon machines will routinely do the ‘recall of terms and content’ so much better than humans, that humans will have to major in higher- level thinking.


The Wonderfully Wired brain of a different learner just happens to have a natural bent for such thinking.

Take literacy for example : Learning to read is HARD for all kids! For kids with language- based learning differences the task is so much more challenging. But Literacy is about more than decoding letters into meaningful words. All kids, whether they have language -related challenges or not, need to become critical thinkers who ask good questions of what is written.

Questions like:

Who’s telling the story?

Do I trust the author?

Whose story isn’t being told?



Levelling the playing field

Imagine technology turning text to speech for a struggling reader by scanning the letters on the page or board in front of her. Such tech could read whatever she looks at into her ear without disrupting the child next to her. Such tech could also teach and assess students using more visuals, with virtual puzzles to be solved in real time and 3D representations to be manipulated in a way never before possible on paper. You might be surprised to know that this kind of tech already exists in products like the recently released Vision Pro from Apple.

For now this kind of technology is wildly out of reach of the average family.


Soon it will not be.

Routine use of AI will quickly eliminate the need for education to lean so heavily on the written word as the primary medium of instruction in a classroom. When that happens, the students so disadvantaged by a “sit-still-and-read-with-your-eyes” classroom might even have the edge.


From decoding to code breaking

Once we get to a place where machines do the things good students used to do, we need to teach all students something MORE: We need to RAISE CRITICAL THINKERS. This is the premise of the work we are looking at this month by the wonderful Julie Bogart.

This is good news for the struggling reader traditionally most handicapped by whether he ‘gets it’ or not. When decoding is the skill most tested and prized, he is left behind but when decoding is a given, all kids need to ask the bigger questions of code breaking.

And that’s when we’ll see out of the box thinking coming into its own.


But more than giving some different thinkers the edge, a shift in education away from text-based learning means that all learners can benefit from learning that is more fun, alive and valuable and relevant.


Imagine when mankind lets the machines do the calculations, fact recall and fast effortless correct answer giving; and real children can lean into what those machines cannot do.


Learners could:

Challenge the status quo

Innovate

Learn tolerance

Contemplate

Create

Care

Connect

Machines don’t need patience and self-control to process new information . Machines can easily ‘change their mind’ by the statistics and are driven by the data. But people need tolerance and empathy to respond to such data and to use it to better the world they live in.

People need to listen to other people, read what makes us uncomfortable and then stay in the discomfort long enough to find connection, value and insight.

I’m so excited about a future in which the valuation of a dyslexic child’s ability isn’t going to be judged by his decoding and memorisation but by his active listening to voices that aren’t his; his curious mind and expansive imagination.


But I’m even more excited by a bigger, more adventurous idea of education in which all children get to be better at being human rather than being tested on how good a machine they can be.







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1 comentário


Samantha Webster
Samantha Webster
10 de ago. de 2023

I couldn't agree more, and not just for kids with learning difficulties, but also for those middle of the pack kids who never get a chance to shine or be top of the class because they can't recall facts at the drop of a hat but show immense kindness, maturity or empathy in how they behave.

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