The Philosophical Implications of Using AI in the Montessori Middle School Environment.
Although the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the classroom has the potential to revolutionize the way we teach and learn, it also raises several philosophical questions and implications that must be considered. This is especially true as the educational world is on fire about OpenAI and the use of ChatGTP. It can be easy to miss the big picture when we focus on individual aspects of the situation.
One of the most significant implications of using AI in the classroom is the question of agency. Agency refers to the ability of an individual to make choices and act upon them. In a Montessori classroom setting, students have agency in that they can choose how they will engage with the material and what outcome they want to see. However, when AI is used in the classroom, students may be less in control of their learning experience. For example, an AI-powered learning platform may be designed to adapt to the individual needs and abilities of each student, but it may also limit the choices available to students, or even make choices for them.
This point raises ethical questions about the role of AI in education. For example, if students are not in control of their own learning, how can we ensure that they are learning the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in life? Additionally, how can we ensure that AI-powered learning platforms are not biased against certain groups of students, such as those from low-income backgrounds or students with disabilities?
The second implication of using AI in the classroom is the question of personalization. Personalization refers to tailoring the learning experience to meet the needs of individual students. In the Montessori classroom, personalization is achieved using different teaching methods, materials, and assessments. However, AI-powered learning platforms can take personalization to a new level by using data to create a unique learning experience for each student.
This in turn raises additional philosophical questions about what it means to learn. For example, if the learning experience is tailored to the individual needs and abilities of each student, does this mean that learning is no longer a social and collective experience? Additionally, if students are only exposed to material that is tailored to their abilities, how can they be challenged to grow and develop new skills?
A third implication of using AI in the classroom is the question of autonomy. Autonomy refers to the ability to make choices and take responsibility for one's actions. In a Montessori classroom, students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning by completing their work, planning their own educational route, studying for assessments, and so on. However, when AI is used in the classroom, students may be less autonomous, as the AI-powered learning platform may make choices for them. If this is the case, how and students lose the control they currently possess over their own learning, how can we ensure that they are developing the autonomy they need to be successful in life? Additionally, how can we ensure that AI-powered learning platforms are not limiting the autonomy of students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds?
Finally, the use of AI in the classroom raises questions about the role of the teacher. In a Montessori classroom, the teacher is responsible for guiding students by planning lessons, striking the imagination through specialized instruction, and assessing student learning. However, when AI is used in the classroom, the role of the teacher may change. For example, the teacher may be responsible for supervising the use of the AI-powered learning platform, rather than delivering instruction. In such a scenario, what is the role of the teacher? Additionally, if the teacher is no longer responsible for guiding or delivering instruction, how can we ensure that students are still learning the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in life?
AI in the classroom has the potential to revolutionize the way we teach and learn. However, it also raises a plethora of philosophical questions that we still need to address, understand, and plan for.
Aki Margaritis is the Executive Director of ETC Montessori and holds teaching credentials for middle school and high school in the areas of biology, math, chemistry. He also holds a Montessori Secondary I credential from AMS.