When ChatGPT made headlines last fall, I think it took our tween approximately three weeks to figure out how to use it.
As parents, we had to quickly establish some parameters (login with our accounts, don’t use it for schoolwork, etc.).
The use cases for this new ChatGPT user were quite amusing. Some were as simple as searching for the best secret ingredient to add to a cookie recipe. Others were as complex as a letter from Abraham Lincoln.
Over the course of the last eight months, this tween of ours has tested prompts, been questioned about which prompt he used, and continued to find age-appropriate, non-academic ways to refine his skills.
As the now infamous IBM report quote says, “It won’t be AI that replaces people, it will be people who use AI replacing people who don’t use AI.”
Fast forward to this school year, my husband and I received a text from our ChatGPT using tween.
Kiddo: Can you pick me up from school early one day this week?
Mom: Not unless there is a valid reason (bleeding, vomit, not breathing).
Kiddo (obviously using ChatGPT): The concept of early release from school has garnered attention for its potential benefits.
One of the most compelling arguments in favor of early release is its impact on time management. Allowing students to leave early can promote better time management skills as they can use the extra hours for self-study, pursuing their interests, or engaging in extracurricular activities. This empowers students to take charge of their schedules, fostering responsibility and autonomy.
In addition, a full school day can be physically and mentally exhausting. Early release can help prevent burnout and keep students more engaged during their classes.
Requesting early release reflects a sense of responsibility and maturity on the part of the student. It demonstrates that they value their education and are capable of managing their time effectively. This sense of responsibility can carry over into other aspects of their lives and prepare them for the challenges of adulthood. Also, extracurricular activities play a pivotal role in a student’s personal and social development. Many students are involved in sports, music, volunteering, and other activities that contribute to their growth as well-rounded individuals. Being picked up early can allow students to fully participate in these activities without the rush of trying to balance them with a full school day. This not only enhances their skills but also instills a sense of commitment and teamwork.
With more time for self-study or homework completion, early release can contribute to improved academic performance. It can create a conducive environment for focused learning, reducing distractions and allowing students to delve deeper into their studies.
And let’s not forget that early release can provide an opportunity for more quality family time in the afternoons. In a world where time with family is often limited, this can lead to stronger family bonds and emotional well-being.
Mom: Nice pull ChatGPT.
Kiddo: Why can’t you just read it and say, “great points, I concur.”
Dad (chiming in, asking ChatGPT to respond to its own argument with humor and love from the perspective of a parent):
First of all, your essay was so compelling, I almost grabbed my car keys right then and there. You had me at “Optimal Time Management” — not to mention that “Reduced Burnout” part. I started picturing you, all Zen-like, sipping herbal tea and reciting poetry, clearly the portrait of a well-balanced youngster. 😄
However, let’s be real here. I appreciate that you made a compelling argument, complete with points I could probably add to my next business proposal. Still, the Parental Tribunal has deliberated and has a few counterarguments to present:
You’re right about having time for extracurriculars, but school isn’t just about academic grind; it’s also where you learn how to navigate the social seas and make friendships that could last you a lifetime. Those awkward moments, little triumphs, and even random lunchroom chats teach you just as much as your classes do.
Ever thought about what you might learn when you least expect it? Even in those “non-academic” classes, you could discover a hidden talent or realize you love something you never thought you’d even like.
There’s an underrated skill in learning how to be bored and finding ways to engage your own imagination and creativity. Also, it keeps you humble; not every minute of every day needs to be maximized for output.
Those extra hours give you a chance to understand other people. Understanding your peers now will prepare you for the adult world later — trust me, it’s weirder than middle school.
Let’s be honest, we parents also enjoy the free time when you’re at school. More time with you at home means less time for our top-secret “Parental Operations,” such as…well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, would it? So, although you’ve made an argument worthy of a Supreme Court hearing, you’re still sentenced to a full day of school for now. But fear not! We can discuss renegotiating your “early release parole” in the future.
Kiddo: I am not liking either of you right now.
As we are talking about ChatGPT and other generative AI tools in education, let’s be sure to leave a little room for interaction and laughter. This is a new territory for all of us, it’s important to not get too caught up in the fear and have some real talk with our kids (and laugh a little along the way).