VHS teachers discuss their opinions about ChatGPT


ChatGPT is a website created by OpenAI. Graphic by: Kendall Garcia

Kendall Garcia

ChatGPT is a chatbot that was launched in November of 2022 by OpenAI

ChatGPT has brought up many questions from both students and staff. How will this affect teaching and learning in the future? The website ChatGPT is able to write an entire essay in seconds. All users need to do is insert a topic. The website also never produces the same essay twice, even if you insert the same topic multiple times. Each time users will receive a brand new essay. 

VHS science teacher Woody Maxwell said, “The website is a really big deal in research. People are highly concerned about [students] forging research papers because ChatGPT has access to everything on the internet.”

VHS English teacher Greg Raney said, “My first reaction was oh no, students already dislike writing in general and this isn’t going to help them like it anymore. In fact it will make it easier for them to side step the actual writing process which is important. So one of my responses was to ignore it and just kind of be in denial.”

However, the website is currently unable to write opinion pieces, over time it has the resources to evolve into something that could. Currently, ChatGPT can only write based on facts it finds on the internet. 

VHS English teacher Elizabeth Mainz said, “I’ve heard about ChatGPT but I haven’t gone around and played with it yet. So far I think it’s really smart, it’s a thing that [students] can definitely use to make their lives easier but, you know I trust my students to do the stuff I’m asking them to do. I hope that the change in my curriculum will be that I’m giving them something that they don’t feel the need to use it for. I want my assignments to be something that [my students] enjoy doing or that they’ll see the value of doing. I’m sure [ChatGPT] will pop up at some point but there’s always things like this that come up as AI gets smarter.”

Raney said, “I think this will push me as a writing teacher to think more carefully about what I expect students to write and how I expect them to write.” Photo by: Kendall Garcia

The website is currently in its trial period accounts are free to make and is available for anyone 18 years and older. The website is very open about the fact that it is currently tracking users’ data in order to grow its writing skills. Eventually, when the website is fully developed, the accounts will no longer be free to create. 

Raney said, “[My first reaction] of being in denial wasn’t really effective. So I decided to try and learn about it and I thought teaching ChatGPT in class would be a way for students and myself to learn more about it. [I wanted to be] more open and transparent about it instead of ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist.”

Maxwell said, “Students as the owner of this tool need to use it as a tool and not be the tool. So I think it will be the next tool that comes along and we just have to deal with the tool. I mean it’s just like the conversion from chalkboards to whiteboards…we’ll have to adjust.”

Jonathan Hill ‘24 has used ChatGPT in his classes this year, he said, “We should keep [ChatGPT more secretive] so teachers don’t find out about it and we can keep using it. [I don’t think it’s cheating] we are using our resources wisely.”

Teachers expressed that ChatGPT wasn’t really as bad as some may assume. Instead, it gives them a new challenge as the teacher and their students a new tool to learn. 

“I want my students to see how it can help us by embracing it as a tool and seeing how it can help us get better and do things better which is what all tools are kind of supposed to do. I hope to have [my classes] comparing authentic writing from a person (individual writing) versus that from this chatbot and to see what it does accomplish and also see what it doesn’t accomplish. The hope is that [my classes] can use it as a way to learn about writing instead of a way to shortcut it,” said Raney.