Late last year, as I was mindlessly scrolling TikTok, I came across several videos about a new AI tool that could do practically anything — from writing essays to coding complex programs. Curious, I grabbed my laptop and hopped on an AI wave with over 1 million ChatGPT users. It felt like I was texting Google in human form.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT has been instrumental in popularizing artificial intelligence technology in recent months. It has demonstrated its versatility by writing code, drafting blog posts, composing college essays, compiling work reports, and much more — all in a matter of seconds. This AI technology is revolutionary, and it’s already transforming education.
As a high school junior, I started using ChatGPT in December when it was first released. I used it to grade my AP English language essays by entering the rubric and my essays into the prompt. It helped me rephrase sentences and format my lab reports, which saved me a lot of time. While I didn’t use it to write this op-ed, I did use it to edit it. However, it wanted me to give it more praise and avoid talking about any flaws.
It taught me how to code and build a basic website and helped me to clearly understand chemistry concepts like chemical bonds and reactions. However, it doesn’t always get the answers right. The same was true for physics and calculus. ChatGPT can give the correct steps and formulas to solve a specific problem, but the answers are often wrong.
In December, I told my friends about ChatGPT and its capabilities. At first, they were skeptical, but soon they began using it too. Most of them have used it to enhance their education and start new projects. One is using ChatGPT to code an app that helps people create their own stock market trading algorithms. Even some of my teachers began using AI to create worksheets and complete their busy work. However, as news of ChatGPT spread, some of my peers began abusing this technology. They would use it to write entire English and history essays in minutes that contained factual inaccuracies, which led to the inevitable crackdown.
As a result, my school banned the website from school-issued Chromebooks, fearing the havoc it could wreak on lesson plans and the potential for students to pass off AI-generated work as their own. This isn’t an isolated case: New York City public schools have banned the use of ChatGPT.
But is an outright ban the right approach? After all, if a chatbot can complete a task in seconds, what’s the point of the assignment?
To put it in perspective, calculators can perform computations at lightning speed, but students are still expected to learn basic arithmetic. The same principle applies to AI technology like ChatGPT. Ultimately, the purpose of education is not just to regurgitate content but to develop high-level skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication. By engaging in hands-on problem-solving and writing, students develop a robust, creative thought process that cannot be replicated by relying on AI alone. After all, that is the whole purpose of education.
At the same time, students should be familiar with these tools and know how to use them effectively. Much like calculators, students learn to employ advanced technologies for solving complex, real-world problems that would be unnecessarily challenging to tackle without them. In today’s fast-paced digital world, the ability to adapt and master new technologies is an indispensable skill. Hence, schools must embrace tools like ChatGPT and other AI technologies, as they are becoming integral components of our society. Instead of banning them, educators need to incorporate these technologies into their curriculum, teaching students how to use them responsibly, ethically, and to their advantage.
To achieve a balanced approach, schools could develop guidelines for appropriate usage and foster a culture of integrity, creativity, and collaboration. This would involve training teachers to help students harness the power of AI while maintaining a strong emphasis on the development of essential skills. By incorporating AI-driven tools into the classroom, educators can create an environment where students learn to use technology as a complement to their own abilities rather than as a crutch to avoid intellectual challenges. Teachers could assign students to write an argumentative essay and then have ChatGPT respond to the essay, allowing students to improve their writing skills. In science, teachers can use AI to simulate experiments and gather data for labs. For foreign language classes, ChatGPT can help students practice their conversational skills and provide feedback in real time. In computer science, ChatGPT can offer suggestions to improve programming efficiency or add new features. By using AI in these ways, teachers can provide more in-depth instruction, students can learn better, and they can gain valuable experience working with AI.
Additionally, educators should take the opportunity to teach digital literacy skills, guiding students on how to identify, evaluate, and address biases in AI-generated content. This would not only help students become more responsible users of AI but also promote critical thinking and discernment in an increasingly digital world. The focus should be on empowering students to make informed decisions and cultivate a sense of responsibility for their own learning and growth, with AI serving as a valuable tool rather than a substitute for human ingenuity.
As AI technologies continue to evolve and become more deeply integrated into various aspects of our lives, it is increasingly important for students to be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate them effectively. This awareness will enable them to be responsible digital citizens in an AI-driven world, using technology to enhance human potential rather than undermine it.
Lakshya Jain is a junior at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham.