I spent some words discussing AI as it relates to education in a previous post, in which I raised the distinction between a "to-do" and a "to-live" purpose of society/life. I was reminded of this distinction during a recent Huberman Lab with Rick Rubin (see here for curated content). AI was raised, particularly relative to generating content or art, and Rick's response struck me.
What I find interesting about art is the point of view of the person making it and I don't know if AI has a point of view of its own.
As a professor, what inherently interests me is not a student's completed project and its quality. Of course the product and quality matters, but it's not why I gravitated toward the academy or working with students, whether they be undergraduates, graduates, or research participants. I became a professor because I am interested in the point of view of my students (and research participants). My students' thoughts interest me. My students' experiences interest me. My students' points of view interest me. My students interest me.
No matter the project, assignment, thesis, dissertation, etc., I engage with students' work because I want to engage with the thinking that generated the work. I want to develop a relationship with a student through engaging with and learning from their point of view. I strive for that relationship to be reciprocal in its nature. I hope to give the student an opportunity to develop a relationship with me through offering my own thinking in return in the form of feedback, dialogue, and future interactions.
In giving time to my students' work, I hope I am giving time to their thoughts because that's what interests me. And if it's not their thoughts I am giving time to, what am I giving time to?
As educators, this perspective requires that we create learning environments and assignments that afford students putting their thinking on display for others' consideration. All too often our classrooms foreground declarative knowledge, and formal education institutions as the disseminators of declarative knowledge is becoming an antiquated model. As Robert Schaefer argued over a half-century ago, schools should be centers of inquiry, and it is through being a center of inquiry that a school can remain relevant. It is through inquiring into our students' thinking so that they engage in inquiry that we, as professors, can remain relevant.