ChatGPT and Education Reform

The following article was posted by Amit to his website titled – ChatGPT’s Guide to Education and Career Choices in the AI Era. It is recommended reading even for the closed minded – Barbados Underground

Amit Uttamchandani

It’s been almost a year since I started using ChatGPT. During this time, I’ve had dozens upon dozens of conversations that have covered a wide range of topics. Many, if not all of these conversations, have always left me pleasantly surprised in terms of its human-like comprehension, understanding and responses (even when my grammar and spelling is less than perfect). However, I know ChatGPT is not a person, heck, even ChatGPT knows that it is not a person. It is not an individual, sentient or self-aware, nor does it posses consciousness like us human beings.

As I understand it, and in extremely simple terms, it is nothing but an enormous set of data stored in a machine (physical machines) with complex software algorithms that use all manner of pattern matching, sophisticated math, statistics, et cetera, to respond to input from a human being in a human like manner. Remember, that was a very simple definition. Not in agreement with me on it? No problem, here’s what ChatGPT has to say:


13 thoughts on “ChatGPT and Education Reform

  1. Let all opinions contend?

    “ Education reform: My take
    By John Goddard

    Now that the Ministry of Education, Technology and Vocational Training has published a document of proposals for education transformation, I consider it timely for me to make a few comments on the proposals, make a case for reform and offer some suggestions on the shape reform should take.
    First of all, I want to say that education does not respond well to political expediency. Nor is education reform an appropriate area for trying to score political points. The lives of too many people will be impacted by what changes are made in education.
    Secondly, I find it difficult to understand the reasoning behind announcing major plans for such a critical issue and then seek to engage stakeholders in consultation. A clear case of putting the cart before the horse. The political directorate through the Ministry of Education should have established a broad-based committee comprising relevant sectors of Barbadian society to produce recommendations for the transformation of the system. Key members of that committee ought to have been the Barbados Union of Teachers, the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, the associations of primary and secondary principals as well as the organisation representing our university lecturers. After all, no reformed system of education can function effectively without the work of educators. Whether the authorities acknowledge it or not, principals and teachers are the backbone of the education enterprise, The third point I wish to make is that reform ought not to be a rushed job. It requires clarity of thought and consideration of how it will affect citizens. So to talk about implementing fundamental changes to education by 2025 does not reflect the reality of our situation. Transformation is not a one-shot exercise; it is a process which I reckon will probably take about five years to come to fruition.
    Fourthly, there is no need for Junior and Senior Colleges of Excellence. Changing the titles of all secondary institutions to colleges may sound good, but it will not remove the stigma attached to certain schools, nor will it guarantee successful learning outcomes.
    Also, excellence cannot be artificially created but must evolve.
    A pertinent question which we must ask is whether the framers of the reform document have carefully considered the cost of their grandiose plans.
    So, while I applaud the government for appreciating the need for reform, or as they call it transformation, I am afraid the politicians have gone about it the wrong way, and some of the key proposals do not reflect the Barbadian reality and are unlikely to produce the results hoped for.
    At the outset, let me say that educational transformation should be guided by a clearly articulated philosophy. In other words, what kind of Barbados and Barbadian citizens are we aiming to create? There needs to be national buy-in regarding the philosophy and need for reform. In my view, education should aim to produce citizens who: possess the skills and competencies required for productive citizenship; respect human life, our cultural heritage and the environment; have a positive work ethic; cherish values of integrity, self-respect, respect for others, compassion and integrity; are committed to practising healthy lifestyles and show pride in their country.
    But why reform at this time and what form should it take? I wish to posit the view that no meaningful reform is possible without well-thought-out changes to primary education. At present, too much of what occurs in our primary schools is heavily influenced by the Common Entrance Examination.
    The Ministry of Education grades schools according to performance in that exam. Naturally, therefore, principals and teachers concentrate much of their attention on achieving the best 11+ results possible. From very early emphasis is placed on English and Mathematics, the two subjects tested in Common Entrance. As a placement exam, the 11+ is designed to ensure that only a small percentage of students will acquire the marks which will win them places in the grammar schools.
    The also-rans are then allocated to the newer secondary schools, with those scoring below 30 being placed in the six or seven schools which occupy the bottom of the pecking order.
    Every year when Common Entrance results are announced, a significant number of children are deemed by society, and they regard themselves as failures. Crying and gnashing of teeth occur during the first few weeks of the term following the 11+, and principals, guidance counsellors and teachers are left with the unenviable task of consoling the casualties. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we consider it satisfactory that after five or six years of primary schooling, we should have hundreds of students whose sub-standard Language and Mathematics skills render them ill-equipped for secondary education.
    In 1990, Dr Dan Carter, writing in the BUT newspaper Outlook, quoted ministry statistics showing that in the years 1980-1988, 4 705 students who sat the 11+ scored between 19 and 0 in English, reflecting an average of 10.8 per cent of the examinees.
    And to think that Barbadian parents regard the Common Entrance Examination as the fairest system which man can devise. The truth is that middle-class Barbadians are the major beneficiaries of the exam. It is their, or should I say, our children who gain places at the so-called elite schools.
    Very few children of working-class background make it to those schools.
    The exam was always meant to cater to a small minority.
    In 1969, Cameron Tudor, later Sir James, speaking in Parliament on the allegation of mark tampering in the Ministry of Education, pointed out that 10 000 children had done part one of what was then a two-part 11+ exam, competing for 750 places in the ten grammar schools. According to him, the ministry “decided” that 3 000 would write part two of the exam. You can therefore see that accommodation had to be found elsewhere for the other 2 250 students who had done part two. To put it another way, 9 250 11-year-olds could never have found places at the older secondary schools.
    At least in those days, everybody knew that pupils were taking the exam for entry into grammar schools. Under what was called the Feeder System, those who failed to gain admission to such schools were placed in comprehensive or newer secondary schools in their catchment area. That left us with the notion of top schools and second-class institutions.
    Fortunately, each newer secondary school was still able to attract students with ability from the feeder schools within their zone. A number of them went on to do well in their chosen careers. Even weaker pupils benefitted from being educated in the same environment as their brighter counterparts. Many of the schools, therefore, performed creditably in academics, vocational skills and sports. By the way, I notice that in the ministry’s proposals for reform, feeder schools are being featured again.
    Unfortunately, things changed in the 80s when the authorities initiated a more rigid hierarchical system, under the pretence that all schools were equal. Parents were allowed several choices from the list of all secondary schools. This resulted in students “passing” and going to schools many miles away from their homes. Thus, we had the folly of children from St Philip having to catch a five o’clock bus to go to Coleridge and Parry in St Peter or St James Secondary, and returning home at night. No thought was given to children taking part in sports or other extra-curricular activities or what time they would have to do homework. School became a matter of getting there, often late, and looking for the earliest bus back home.
    A major side effect of this madness was the development of the ZR culture with its unruly and vulgar behaviour. Not even the government’s introduction of free bus fare for school children has been able to curtail the deeply ingrained practice of taking ZRs. The pull of ghetto behaviour is too great.

    John Goddard is a retired educator.”

  2. @Amit and David
    Do you all honestly believe that the people driving Education Reform and making policy/other decisions understand ChatGPT?

    • @Observing

      Dr. Yearwood has been rightly calling for a new kind of politics to be practiced in Barbados. He cannot accrue credibility doing so while pushing back against the label of being a politician. The point: will he do the normal and hold recommendations to push transformational change in education close to the chest to prevent co-opting by Mottley, similar to Welcome Stamp idea?

      Whether we like it or not Barbados is a politician led place whatever that means. Who are the talking heads on education in the mould of late Dr. Leonard Shorey et al to bring sobriety to the space as we discuss education transformation?

    • The more immediate threat/challenge for the classroom is how do we identify students using ChatGpt to game the system. It will intimately comeback to haunt them but do they care given the prevailing culture of searching for quick success?

  3. It is good that the lies, deception and false information regarding our educational system and more particularly the Common Entrance Examination, are now being exposed.

  4. According to Dr. Justin Robinson some students at UWI have been found to have used ChatGPT to assist with course work. He also expressed concern CXC students maybe also using to prepare continuous assessments. To his knowledge CXC and others may not have access to the same software UWI uses to sniff out cheating students.

  5. @David
    There are many free tools that are easily accessible to tutors and teachers. Just need the will and a nudge to do it.

    Just observing

The blogmaster dares you to join the discussion.