Gunston School, a private school just outside of Centreville, like so many other things in its long history, seems to be at the forefront of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into its curriculum. In this interview with Head of School John Lewis and graduating senior Damian Rene talk about school’s unique approach to AI and find a way to weave this new technology into every subject and discipline, while also providing a specific strand for students who have a deep interest in computer science, such as Damian.
The school sees AI as a learning tool rather than something to avoid. Lewis said, “We should really embrace it as more of a learning tool rather than this thing to kind of stay away from.” The birth of the Internet sparked similar reactions, but the school recognizes its potential in the classroom.
AI has been around for a while, but it has exploded recently due to public access. Students can generate anything from essays to theses, research papers, and practice problems. Damian presented a sample assignment for Lewis’s AP class as part of the trustee presentation. Lewis said it was a good encapsulation of the assignment, but students should not rely on AI as a 100% accurate resource.
Gunston’s approach to AI is focused on teaching students critical thinking in the age of AI. Lewis cited the example of maps and how students need to learn directionality, even though they can rely on GPS. The school wants to bring fundamental concepts into analog format so that students understand the deep structure of the concept before using AI tools.
Damian provided two examples of AI’s potential for learning. One was creating a marketing campaign for Gunston using specific terms. The other was generating an essay assignment, which the AI tool completed. Lewis said the school needs to rethink what it expects from students in terms of production and the teaching of writing.
Gunston is still at the first steps of AI integration. The school has an internal team dedicated to exploring the technology and formulating additional training and professional development for faculty. Lewis acknowledges that some people know how to use AI, but the vast majority of Americans have no idea of its potential.
The school aims to teach critical thinking in the age of AI and bring fundamental concepts into analog format before using AI tools. Gunston is at the first steps of AI integration and plans to offer training and professional development for faculty in the upcoming summer and fall.
This video is approximately 5 minutes in length. For more information about the Gunston School please go here.
Editor note: The introduction copy to this Spy video interview was produced by ChatGPT-3.5.