Artificial Intelligence Cannot Replace Teachers’ God-Given Skills, by Jessica Johnson

Like many educators, I am learning more about ChatGPT and its potential impact on student writing in the future. The “GPT” stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer, and this chatbot was developed by the artificial intelligence company OpenAI. ChatGPT was opened to the public last November and there are concerns in higher education that many students may be tempted to use this new technology to cheat. ChatGPT can bring up papers with the insertion of a task prompt. The technology can also impressively produce emails, blogs, responses to panel questions, and poetry. Basically, as many English teachers now fear, a bot can do all of their students’ homework.

Thinking of colleagues in my generation who teach in the humanities, I understand the unease many have about ChatGPT’s impact on what we see as the foundation of traditional writing. We’ve been in the digital age of the internet for quite some time and have been trying to protect ourselves from student plagiarism, as copying and pasting content or buying a paper mill essay have been the biggest threats to English courses since the early 2000s. I remember using being heavily claimed to detect internet plagiarism, although I never made a habit of using that site. It was easy for me to identify plagiarized passages in essays, being familiar with what I like to call the ebb and flow of a student’s writing. For example, when a paragraph was taken from a scholarly article, one of the first things I noticed was that a signal phrase to introduce it was missing and a parenthetical reference was often omitted. I would google a few lines and the article would come up. Grammar was also a noticeable snag, especially when a student was struggling with sentence fragments and strings together. In a plagiarized essay, it was fairly obvious which passages were being taken from a source when inserted between grammar-ridden paragraphs.

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I have been fortunate not to have numerous plagiarism problems during my years teaching English composition. I think one of the reasons for this is that I emphasize to my students that their voices are unique. “There’s no need to steal someone else’s words and pass them off as your own,” I explain, “because no one can speak for you with the distinctive voice you have.” I emphasize the importance of one’s voice in mine Courses because it is also one of the most important qualities for me as a journalist and even a technology as remarkable as ChatGPT cannot reproduce a real expression coming from the soul. As I sit down to write my weekly column, I often meditate on the last part of Psalm 45:1, which says, “…my tongue is the pen of a skilled scribe,” an outpouring of my creative, God-given talent . I enjoy sharing what God has in my heart regarding the subjects I explore and share with readers, and I also enjoy seeing my students discover their extraordinary voices from their own research. Each semester I encourage students to create their own primary sources by conducting personal interviews and surveys. I recently graded an essay on Gen Z and education in which one of my students focused on the need for more teacher training to help children with learning disabilities. This student interviewed her younger brother who has ADHD and it was evident that she fully immersed herself in her topic as she had a personal connection to it. This improved her analysis of the secondary sources she cited in her work. A bot would not be able to authentically articulate her sincere concern for her brother’s educational needs.

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As ChatGPT evolves, educators will explore different ways to imaginatively implement this technology in their classrooms. Since I spend a lot of time teaching freshman students how to do scientific research, I can see how ChatGPT could be used for task prompts with questions to help students better understand key points in peer-reviewed articles. The ongoing concern in the humanities will continue to be students using the chatbot to write their essays, but I think a positive outcome to counteract this will be teachers perfecting what they already do best, viz Students show how to improve their critical thinking skills how to become more information literate. Bots can automate these skills for students, but only teachers can teach them.

dr Jessica A. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the English Department of Ohio State University’s Lima campus. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @JjSmojc. To learn more about Jessica Johnson and read articles by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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