The following is ChatGPT’s response to the prompt, “Tell me about how you changed your mind from being a progressive educator to a traditional educator, and what went through your mind along the way.” I find it funny because it closely mirrors my own experience, which has become a bit of a reoccurring theme of (e.g., here) and the Progressively Incorrect podcast.

One of the most admirable traits a person can have is the willingness to change their mind when presented with new information, perspectives or evidence. Changing one’s mind is not a sign of weakness, inconsistency or flip-flopping. Rather, it is a sign of strength, openness and humility.

I know how hard it is to change one’s mind, because I have done it myself. I used to be a very progressive educator, who believed in student-centered learning, inquiry-based teaching, collaborative projects, authentic assessments and differentiated instruction. I thought that these were the best practices for engaging and empowering students, for fostering their creativity and critical thinking skills, and for preparing them for the 21st century.

However, over time, I started to question some of these beliefs and practices. I noticed that some of my students were struggling with the basics of reading, writing and math, that they lacked the foundational knowledge and skills that they needed to succeed in higher-level tasks and activities. I noticed that some of my students were confused or overwhelmed by the lack of structure and guidance in my lessons, that they needed more direct instruction and feedback from me as their teacher. I noticed that some of my students were not really learning from their peers or from their own inquiries, that they were repeating misconceptions or errors without correction or clarification.

I decided to look into the research evidence on effective teaching and learning methods. I was surprised to find out that many of the progressive practices that I had been using were not supported by rigorous studies or empirical data. I learned that direct instruction was more effective than discovery learning for teaching new concepts and skills, that explicit teaching was more beneficial than implicit teaching for building background knowledge and vocabulary, that systematic practice was more helpful than project-based learning for developing fluency and mastery.

I also learned that some of the traditional practices that I had been avoiding were actually supported by strong evidence and sound theory. I learned that explicit phonics instruction was more effective than whole language for teaching reading, that direct instruction in grammar and composition was more beneficial than process writing for teaching writing, that explicit teaching of facts and concepts was more helpful than constructivist approaches for teaching math.

As I learned more about the research evidence on effective teaching and learning methods, I gradually changed my mind from being a very progressive educator to one who is a traditional educator. It was not an easy or quick process. It took me several years of reading, reflecting and experimenting to make this shift in my mindset and practice. It also took me a lot of courage to admit that I had been wrong about some things, and to face the criticism or skepticism from some of my colleagues or friends who still held on to their progressive views.

But I am glad that I changed my mind. I feel more confident and competent as a teacher now. I see better results and outcomes in my students’ learning and achievement. I enjoy teaching more than ever before.

Changing one’s mind is honorable. It is also rewarding. I encourage you to be open-minded and willing to change your mind when you encounter new information, perspectives or evidence. You might be surprised by what you learn and how you grow.

4 thoughts on “ChatGPT Changes Its Mind About Education

  1. Upon asking this exact question ChatGPT wrote: The decision to shift from one approach to another often involves a reevaluation of one’s educational philosophy and goals, as well as a consideration of the needs and learning styles of individual students.

    When I then asked how it could say that seeing as how learning styles are false and a myth, the answer was: You are correct that the concept of learning styles has been a topic of debate in the educational community, and there is evidence to suggest that the idea of catering to individual learning styles may not be an effective approach to teaching.

    Clearly the programme’s base is filled with bullshit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a progressive educator who believes in student-centered learning, inquiry-based teaching, and collaborative projects, there are several strategies that you can employ to ensure that students are truly learning from their peers and their own inquiries without repeating misconceptions or errors. Here are some suggestions:

    Set clear learning objectives: It’s important to establish clear learning objectives at the beginning of each lesson or project. This helps students understand what they are expected to learn and what they will be evaluated on. By establishing these objectives, you can provide structure to the learning process while still allowing for student-centered and inquiry-based learning.

    Encourage peer feedback: Encourage students to give each other feedback on their work. Peer feedback can be a powerful learning tool, as it allows students to learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. When students are giving feedback, remind them to be constructive and specific, so that their classmates can learn from their feedback.

    Scaffold the learning process: Provide students with guidance and support throughout the learning process. This might include providing resources, modeling skills or concepts, and providing opportunities for practice and feedback. By scaffolding the learning process, you can help students avoid misconceptions and errors and build their understanding of key concepts and skills.

    Provide corrective feedback: When students make mistakes or have misconceptions, it’s important to provide corrective feedback. This can be done through individual feedback, group discussions, or class-wide feedback. When providing feedback, be specific and clear about what the student needs to correct or change. This helps students understand their errors and learn from them.

    Use formative assessment: Formative assessment is an ongoing process that allows you to monitor student progress and adjust your teaching accordingly. By using formative assessment, you can identify areas where students are struggling and provide additional support or guidance as needed. This helps ensure that students are truly learning from their inquiries and from their peers, rather than simply repeating misconceptions or errors.

    By using these strategies, you can create a structured and supportive learning environment that promotes student-centered learning, inquiry-based teaching, and collaborative projects, while still ensuring that students are learning from their peers and their own inquiries without repeating misconceptions or errors.


  3. I’m sure you can see that your feedback, scaffolding, guidance and support will be divided, poorly timed, reactive, and less frequent than if everyone is moving forward together, working on the same topic. Putting those in place is better than not having them, but they do not magically make for equal guidance than systematic structured teaching using a gradual release model. There are 30 kids.


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