The Atlantic recently published an article called “ The Death of High School English” which pushed the idea that AI will soon be able to write student essays in a manner which is both superior and undetectable. Currently ( I have been an English teacher for thirty years) we have tools and devices that can detect plagiarized, but AI will be able to construct novel essay that will not get caught by programs such as Turnitin.com
While I agree with The Atlantic’s contentions, I think the reason we will see writing disappear from high schools and then universities goes beyond the ominous arrival of immediately accessible AI.
I firmly believe that a group of parents will soon argue that writing is a talent and not a skill. To be honest, I kind of agree with them. I think that there are some people who are just genetically predisposed to be good writers. I believe anyone can become a BETTER writer, but that there is an innate component, and if someone does have it there is only so far they can progress. I think it is kind of like drawing: I vividly recall struggling to make make my pens and markers construct something vaguely recognizable while classmates effortlessly drew awesome pictures. In elementary school, the shame I felt at my horrendous drawings lead me to hide them from my parents. The LAST thing I wanted was for them to tell me that my drawings were good or, worse, tape them to the fridge thereby creating a temple to my failure. But, when I wrote….I evened the score.
Anyway, back to the fact that parents will argue that writing is a talent- once they get enough people to say it and buy it, they will be able to say that a student’s lack of writing talent precludes them from expressing the depth and breadth of their knowledge on a topic and, therefore, should not be a part of the assessment of that knowledge.
I know this sounds crazy, but it is not without precedent in high school education.
So, AI or no AI, writing will soon become largely irrelevant in high schools and even in universities.