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Shifting Sands and Turning Tides - How Should Schools Respond to AI?

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Chris Goodall

Head of Digital Education, Bourne Education Trust

Recalling childhood days of building sandcastles against the tide, this piece explores educators' varied reactions to AI's disruptive wave in education. Three camps emerge: those resisting change, fortifying traditional systems against AI; those adapting, reshaping practices to harness AI's potential; and visionaries, reimagining education entirely in an AI-augmented world. As the tide of AI rises, educators must decide their stance: defend, adapt, or innovate.

I remember as a child spending days on the beach building sandcastles with elaborate tunnels, moats and defences and then waiting for the tide to come in to watch the inevitable destruction of my carefully constructed sand sculpture.

Part of the fun was piling up sand in front of the castle to see how long I could stop the power of the tide.

Talking to educators about AI and how it may disrupt the education system reminds me of those days. Aside from those burying their head in the sand, people tend to fall into one of three camps:

Camp 1 -Those that want to protect the castle and are intent on piling sand on the barrier in front of the castle with plagiarism checkers, banning policies and limits on the use of technology.

Camp 2 -Those that accept that the water will surround the castle and adapt the structures, building tunnels and moats. They are making changes to assessment and homework practices, giving staff CPD around AI and moving the focus to teaching students the skills they will need to navigate a world with AI.

Camp 3 -Those who know that the castle will be swept away and have become the beach sand sculpture artists, on the (cutting) edge of the beach, who are looking at carefully crafting new elaborate and innovative structures and shifting education as we know it, to a system augmented by AI.

The tide has turned. Which camp are you in?

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