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ChatGPT

ChatGPT, Change in Education and Ministry, and the Unchanging

The fear is palpable, Educators are seized with panic and gripped by terror. They are overwhelmed by a sense of dread — a foreboding about the future. Their nerves are stretched to the breaking point, consumed by anxiety.

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That was certainly a positive way for me to start this blog post, wasn’t it!  But this really wasn’t me composing the writing. Instead, I asked a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool named ChatGPT to share with me to share ”literary phrases indicating fear and panic”. Within seconds this service provided me with my content. All I did was complete a little editing, combining a few phrases, and adding the result at the head of my post.

Why did I ask the AI service to share phrases about fear? Because that is not an unusual reaction to new technologies, not just by teachers or those in ministry, but by any human who feels that their daily course of work is threatened in some way. Just over a month ago, ChatGPT was introduced in a beta format, allowing anyone to give this service a test run. It is a language tool that might be used in a variety of different ways. For instance, one might ask the service to create an essay on the main themes of Hamlet results in a cohesive (if not overly creative) topic on this topic. ChatGPT can generate answers to a variety of Google-like questions in understandable prose. Propose that ChatGPT create a poem about a topic and it will do just that (try it!) Educators are just beginning to discover how this service might be utilized. 

And there’s the rub. Many fear that ChatGPT will be used by students to create essays they pass off as their own. They are wondering where the line between writing and plagiarism now lies. The threat they feel to the education and process they provide is palpable. Change in this world disorients us, and the capabilities of this service lead to folks feeling threatened and fearful.

In some ways, education has always had to address new methods and technologies which have emerged — the slate, the pencil, the calculator, the word processor, spell check, the internet, etc. What might initially seem to be something to fear is usually an opportunity to re-think what we do, why we do it, and how we can best serve our students for their futures. For me, I see this as the case with ChatGPT as well. In fact, I personally think it is important to keep in mind that this will shortly be seen as a very crude AI tool compared to the services which will be coming down the road.

Sounds dizzying, doesn’t it? How are we going to make sense of what is happening? The alterations that might be needed down the road in the instruction provided by us might seem exhausting, both mentally and physically. How can we stay grounded in a world that is changing so rapidly?

Yes, the pace of change is dizzying, but that is a reminder to me to place my trust in He who is unchangeable — our Heavenly Father. As I rise to meet the challenges of the day — challenges that often result from the change in the world around us — it is more important than ever that I begin the day in God’s unchangeable Word, that I go to Him who never changes in prayer, placing both my praise and concerns at His feet, and bask in His love, mercy, and my present and ultimate salvation through Jesus Christ.

So go ahead world — let the change occur. I have a God who will help me navigate the changes of the day as His servant, and who promises never to change so that I have a solid Rock in this life. What more could I ask for as I face change?

David Black teaches at Lutheran High School, Parker, Colo., and the director of Lights Academy, a project-based learning experience within the existing school. He is in his 33rd year as a teacher and has served Lutheran education at large as a writer, presenter, and consultant.

1 Comment

  1. Gail Potratz on January 11, 2023 at 2:59 pm

    You stated it well. Change and embracing new technology in a positive way has always been a part of education, though the pace may be more rapid as of late.
    The fact that our foundational beliefs in the continued consistency of our Lord hold up everything in our lives, including our educational philosophies, gives us the “peace that passes all understanding”. Thanks for the encouraging article, Dave.

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