30-Day writing challenge

I’ve been writing everyday since May 1 to take the 30-day, 30-minute writing challenge I signed up to raise money for American Cancer Society. However, I said I’ll only publicly share writing that I think may be worth sharing. And this week I caught some students, including one of my favorites, using AI- generated text, albeit not 100%. I was heartbroken. I get the temptation to cheat this way. It doesn’t even take much effort. A colleague noted that it is “the laziest form of cheating!” Just give it a prompt and it’ll type it away. And why should I be surprised? I had relied on AI to autocorrect my misspelled words. I had asked it to proofread my writing and my students’ essays. And gotten upset with it for auto-correcting my sometimes foul language. Ducking agile??? Well, they have upgraded the thing to write full coherent paragraphs now. It is not only “intuitive”, it is summarizing, deducting, inducting, inferring, and analyzing.

Yesterday, friends revealed they have been using it to write their application letters. Makes them sound so sophisticated. It renders these conventions we English teachers hold so dear, irrelevant. What is the point of learning to write if AI can just whip up some sophisticated lines to impress a would-be employer? I should have just had AI-generated my 30 minutes for me. Seriously.

It’s funny how, beside me, my partner is watching the Rise and Fall of the Borg on YouTube as I ponder upon this AI writing phenomenon. “Resistance is futile,” I remember the Borg queen saying. I feel the same about this whole AI conversation. I do wonder how the newfangled communication technology impacts critical thinking. Is it making us smarter or dumber? I guess writing is not something that comes easy for everyone. So I get it. Just like public speaking is a talent few have. I know I can’t do that extemporaneous speaking that my sister got a first place award for doing in college.

But let’s call a spade a fucking spade can we? If you used AI to write your essay or email or application letter, own it! And if you’re my student, I better not catch you.

I get that some students are disadvantaged by the digital divide, not having laptops or sophisticated cellphones to write their essays with and so they cram at the last minute when they get access at the library and are tempted to cheat (although if truth be told I’ve had students in my class who refuse to buy their books but have the latest iPhone). Can’t deny that the kids that “have” are advantaged by their access to unlimited wifi and AI technology like chatGPT, so why not teach our students to use it the “right” way? In fact, I had a student with clear dysgraphia that I know would probably never get ahead without the costly help of a neurologist, but who could maybe benefit from using AI to coherently put her thoughts on paper. I get that writing essays may not be a priority for students who only need to get a certificate to get a nursing degree, but to make this thing think for you? “Writing is thinking on paper,” claimed William Zinsser, who wrote the seminal book On Writing Well way back when. It seems critical thinking has been eroded by readily available information, albeit suspect, on social media and the internet. Now, this AI chatGPT has practically rendered it out of fashion.

AI is like a book-loving serial killer. You can’t help but love him for intuiting and giving you everything you could possibly need and want. Until the day you find out he’s been cyberstalking you all this time, and you realize that, damn, you better end this before he ends you.

About filinthegap

Lani T. Montreal is an educator, writer, performer, and community activist. Her writings have been published and produced in Canada, the U.S., the Philippines and in cyberspace. Among her plays are: Nanay, Panther in the Sky, Gift of Tongue, Looking for Darna, Alien Citizen, Grandmother and I, and her most-toured comedy drama about gender and immigration, titled Sister OutLaw. She is the recipient of the 2016 3Arts Djerassi Residency Fellowship for Playwriting, 2009 3Arts Ragdale Residency Fellowship, the 2001 Samuel Ostrowsky Award for her memoir “Summer Rain,” and was finalist for the 1995 JVO Philippine Award for Excellence in Journalism for her environmental expose “Poison in the River.” Lani holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She teaches writing at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and writes a blog called “Fil-in-the-gap”. (filinthegap.com.) She lives (and loves) in Albany Park, Chicago with her multi-species, multi-cultural family.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s