ChatGPT is Exposing Our Broken Education System

I was at a talk about generative AI over the weekend, and someone asked about what it meant for students and homework assignments.

The speaker said something I can’t stop thinking about: that if ChatGPT can regurgitate information as well as a student, and the teacher has no idea, what’s really the problem?

Something I’m trying to teach my children, even at their young ages, is critical thinking. I don’t want them to memorize something. I want them to think about a problem, analyze it, and come to a solution.

I want them to question rules that don’t make sense. And I want them to force people in authority positions to explain themselves.

Our education system in the United States doesn’t do teach those skills, and the fear of what ChatGPT means for homework grossly exposes that.

Who cares if ChatGPT can write a paper about the Battle of Gettysburg at a 5th grade level?

If my kid successfully leverages tools like ChatGPT to do their homework and save them time, they’ve gained a much more useful skill than memorizing the Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the American Civil War, lasting from July 1 to July 3, 1863, with the Union Army defeating the Confederate Army led by General Robert E. Lee1.

We’re still in a culture where students are taught to obey arbitrary rules, learn enough to pass standardized tests, and then promptly forget what they’ve memorized.

And it’s so very broken. It’s why 98% of 5 year olds are considered “genius level creative,” and by age 15, that number is down to 12%.

The good teachers will celebrate generative AI. They’ll teach their students how to leverage it to do proper research in a fraction of the time.

  1. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. ?
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Announcing WP Learning Paths

The WordPress ecosystem has seen big changes over the last couple of years. The acquisitions seem to be coming fortnightly, full site editing is rapidly evolving, and new areas of expertise, from site builder to DevRel are taking shape.

It’s a lot to think about!

Where to Start in the WordPress Space

As a result, someone entering the WordPress space today may not know where to start, what to specialize in, or how to learn the skills. I wanted to create a simple resource for people to see the professional paths available to them, and the best place to learn skills related to those paths.

I’m excited to announce the very first version of WP Learning Paths.

3 Learning Paths to Start

The Beginner Learning Path

Right now, there are 3 learning paths to start:

  1. Beginner (or user). You’ve never used WordPress before (or at best, dabbled in it). Now you need to update your site and need to figure out how it works. This path is for you.
  2. Site Builder. You’ve been using WordPress for a while, and are starting to make websites for yourself, and for others. While you don’t know how to code, you’ve realized you don’t need to! WordPress is the perfect no-code platform. This path is for you.
  3. Developer. You want to super charge WordPress with your own themes and plugins. You need to learn the inner workings of WordPress to bend it to your will. Maybe you already know how to code, but maybe not! This path is for you.

There is certainly the opportunity for more paths…especially when it comes to the business side of WordPress.

Moving Forward

This site is still in beta and I’m seeking feedback from the community on both learning paths, and learning resources. If you have suggestions, you can use the contact form!

Ultimately I’d love to see this grow into an easy to use directory, where someone can input a topic, and get a place to learn about that topic.

The Toolkit

In case you’re wondering how it’s currently built, I’m using the Twenty Twenty-Two theme, Kadence Blocks Pro, and Kadence Conversions. That’s it! Oh, and naturally, it’s hosted with Nexcess.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

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Use Podcasting To Release Your Learning Material

Last night I gave what will probably be my last in-person talk for a while. Between COVID-19, social distancing, and my son being born in July, I won’t be doing much (if any) traveling for the rest of 2020. I’ll probably record and release the talk I gave to the National English Honors Society of my alma mater, Burke Catholic High School.

But this got me thinking about all of the conferences, meetups, and classes being cancelled. Lots of great content with no one to hear it…at least not in-person. Thankfully It’s easier than ever to publish your message. And I think podcasting is a fantastic avenue to do it.

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I’m Doubling Down on Patreon

The first time I learned how to burn a CD was mind-blowing. It was 1999 and YouTube didn’t exist. Most of the web was brochure sites with marquees and hit counters, so there wasn’t a great place for learning how to do literally anything. Instead, my cousin came over and showed me. He brought a blank CD, opened software on my computer, dragged the songs I wanted into this window and clicked, “Burn.” A few minutes later, BOOM. I had my very own mix CD. What jumped out at me the most was how easy it was when someone was there to show me the way. I felt accomplished.

That experience did 2 things for me. It allowed me to have a very successful mix CD business in high school, and it made me realized I just needed to try things in order to learn them. I felt empowered by the fact that someone showed me the way.

I want you to feel empowered too. That’s why I started on Patreon.

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4.4K People per Month Google, “How do I Google something,” and that’s OK

I came across the above graphic today thanks to this Google Plus post and my knee jerk reaction wasn’t, “Wow those people are dumb.” I think that’s a pretty big step for me because I’m trying to be more open minded and less judgmental. I teach college students, talk at conferences, and field a whole host of different questions every day. If I was constantly calling people dumb for not knowing what I know, I wouldn’t be very popular, and I’d be a horrible educator. Unfortunately, I think that’s the default mentality when it comes to something like this stat.

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Why Voting for John Kerry Changed my Life

Election 2008

Those who know me know I’m pretty conservative. I’m a registered Republican and will be voting for John McCain. Furthermore, John Kerry didn’t win when I voted for him. So how on Earth did voting for him change my life? It was that election (or really after it) that taught me to think for myself.

The 2004 election, as I remember it, was one of passion and anger, just like this year. My friends were all very liberal and I was what I thought Republican was. But there was something different about the me of 2004: I didn’t think I knew everything (some friends will agree that’s changed). I assumed my friends knew more about politics and didn’t bother to do the leg work myself to define who I was politically. So I let them do it for me. As a result, I very ignorantly voted for John Kerry. I didn’t know who I was voting for, nor did I think about why I was voting for him. My friends wanted me to vote for him and that’s what I based my decision on. They knew more than me, right?

So how did this change my life? Well after the election was over, several of them claimed the world was ending. This was the worst possible for thing for America and Americans were stupid for voting Bush in for a second term. That seemed a little extreme to me. It was then I realized that maybe they didn’t know everything and I should think for myself. So I really defined my values and views and why I thought the way I did. I have been doing so over the last four years by staying informed and questioning what I read and what people tell me. I do my very best to back up what I say with fact and when someone says something that seems wrong, I ask them where they got their information. I encourage everyone I know to do the same.

I realize I should have written this before now, but hey- what can you do? My advise for this election is to vote for who you think is best for the country. Don’t let others decide for you. Define who you are, and what your values are, and then decide on a candidate. Don’t let the candidates tell you who you are and how you should think. Don’t not vote for McCain just because he is Republican (Mom and Dad), and don’t not vote for Obama because he’s black or his middle name is Hussein. Those are stupid reasons not to vote for someone. Make an informed decision.

But most importantly, vote. My friends know I’ll argue with anyone and if they can defend their stance, I will value their opinion and accept if even if I disagree. But if you don’t vote, I don’t really give a shit about your opinion because you clearly don’t care enough to voice it.

So I’ve changed a lot in the last four years. I try to stay informed and make claims I can back up with fact. While I don’t think I know everything (some will argue that point), I think I know enough to make an informed decision- and you should too.