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Andrew Gilhooly
Deputy Head of School
January 24, 2024

Is Artificial Intelligence the Future of Teaching?


I am writing this blog post in response to the INSIGHTS article, “The Fourth Education Revolution AI and Why the Teaching Profession has to take the Future into its own Hands” by Sir Anthony Seldon.

Firstly, as a bit of background, I am currently the Deputy Head at the British International School of Boston. I joined Boston from the British International School of Chicago, South Loop, where I was the Head of Secondary for eight years. I have been a math teacher for around two decades, and I love teaching and the joy I get from imparting my mathematical knowledge to students.

I read this INSIGHTS article with curiosity, considering how the future could impact the teaching profession as I have known it for the last 20 years. During my time in education, approaches to teaching and learning have not remained static. The use of technology has certainly been increasing over the past ten years, with COVID accelerating the transition in terms of the use of educational technology.

However, the use of AI in education is very much in its infancy, with small clusters experimenting with its use. Therefore, I was intrigued to read the article and understand an expert's take on the future of AI in education.

I understand and welcome the fact that AI will play a role in education in the future, and I believe that if used correctly, it will have a profound impact on the learning that takes place. However, there is a chance that by adopting AI to the extent described in the article, there is the risk that it would actually have a negative impact on education.

As I write this next section, please consider my thoughts as simply further areas for discussion. I am by no means an expert on AI, especially when it comes to its potential in the future.

First, and perhaps most importantly, the suggestion that AI will replace teachers when it comes to teaching, assessment, and tutoring, is, in my opinion, overlooking the importance of the human connection that exists between teachers and students. As humans, we can provide emotional support, encouragement, empathetic understanding, and the ability to interpret the effectiveness of a teaching strategy simply by body language alone. Developing interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence is essential for students' holistic development, and I struggle to see how AI can fully address this.

While AI can excel in certain tasks, it may struggle to foster creativity and accommodate diverse learning styles. Human teachers have the ability to adapt their teaching methods based on individual student needs, encouraging creativity and critical thinking. AI might not be as effective in recognizing and nurturing the unique talents and learning preferences of each student.

There is also the danger that AI systems could inherit biases present in the data used to train them. Depending on AI for personalized teaching and assessments might perpetuate existing inequalities and biases in education. There's a risk that certain groups of students could receive unequal opportunities or be unfairly assessed due to biases in AI algorithms.
Finally, the article advocates for the teaching profession to take the lead in adopting AI in education. However, without clear regulations and ethical guidelines, there's a risk of uncontrolled implementation of AI, raising concerns about data privacy, security, and the ethical use of technology in educational settings.

I am excited about the future of AI in education, and I agree with many of the benefits mentioned in the article. However, I believe that further discussion and understanding are needed as we consider what AI can replace in education, but also what perhaps should not impact.