I can remember my husband and me at our kitchen island, him on his laptop, us laughing, as he fed questions into ChatGPT like, Why can’t my wife load the dishwasher correctly? This was the date ChaptGPT was “born,” and like many seismic cultural events, it created a flashbulb memory for me. At that moment, ChatGPT felt like a bit of a parlor trick, a novelty whose relevance was, as yet, unclear, but one that my husband and I imagined could quickly turn into something out of a sci-fi novel.
The launch triggered some iteration of the Change Curve in me – shock/denial, anger/fear, acceptance, and commitment. After that initial playful interest, denial set in, and I disengaged from the topic only to be pulled directly into fear as headlines like “Bing’s AI Chat: ‘I Want to Be Alive’” emerged, and the dystopian sci-fi joke began to feel a little too real.
It was early 2023 when we first began to explore the implications of AI at School of the Holy Child. Our Director of Instructional Technology Michelle Sherry and I offered a voluntary after-school session on explaining what ChatGPT, and, more broadly, generative AI is. A handful of teachers attended. We began by explaining what AI is - we’ve been using it for years (Siri, Alexa, Google Maps, et…) - how generative AI is different from predictive AI, and how we’ve seen other technological disruptors - the calculator! Teachers had an opportunity to test out ChatGPT. Language teachers, science teachers, humanities teachers were all huddled together around one another’s screens watching ChatGPT answer questions that they had routinely used in classes. It seemed that, at least, that this portion of the presentation found us squarely in the “fear” stage, and the remainder of it focused on the most immediate fear: cheating and how AI might necessitate changes in how we teach to avoid students using AI to complete their work.
By spring, we finally found ourselves in “acceptance.” As part of our alumnae engagement, Holy Child offered an evening during which alumnae visited campus to take mini courses from current faculty. I chose to lead a session on AI and, in my presentation to alumnae, I added some of the initial predictions of how AI would impact white collar work. We may have been in “acceptance,” but the way forward seemed entirely unclear, particularly as educators. The topic was and is overwhelming, the sheer number of articles, resources, and tools is vast. As we looked ahead to the start of the school year, we had moved into “commitment” and knew that we needed to engage all faculty on AI, not just those who volunteered to learn more. We also knew that it needed to connect to our mission.
For our first all-school presentation, our Director of Instructional Technology updated her previous presentation and collaborated with two of our Ethics teachers who also teach a senior elective entitled, “Technology, Morality, and the Future of Humanity.” They placed the ethics question in the realm of Catholic Social Teaching’s emphasis on human dignity and shared a powerful quote from Pope Francis’s Laudate Deum: “God has united us to all his creatures. Nonetheless, the technocratic paradigm can isolate us from the world and deceive us by making us forget that the entire world is a “contact zone.”
Following this meeting, we launched a voluntary committee to look at the issue of AI for the school. Eight teachers volunteered their time, and, luckily, they broke
down nicely along disciplines: two in humanities, three in STEM, and three in
What follows below is the framework for how we are organizing the committee, establishing its goals and deliverables, and our cadence of meetings. We hope that these guidelines can be helpful to Academic Leaders as we uphold our mission and values and negotiate with this new technological “disruptor”.
School of the Holy Child's Meeting Framework
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)