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A Practical (evolving) Perspective on A.I., Part Two

At Bennett, we are constantly watching the effect of A.I. on education, and our understanding of what it means for students is always evolving. Our blog content is not meant to provide definitive answers as to how this technology will change education, but rather to join the conversation with respected educators. Likewise, the opinions expressed are those of the teacher being interviewed.

We recently asked Sean Jones, a teacher at one of the String Theory Schools in Philadelphia (Vine Campus), for his evolving perspective on how AI is impacting students in the classroom. He currently teaches AP U.S. Government and Politics, American History, CP U.S. Government, and Economics. Sean attended Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, where he studied secondary Social Studies education, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in 2016. He then earned a Master of Arts in Education from Arcadia University in 2020. Sean is entering his eighth year of teaching, and when he is not teaching, he can be found at the gym, on the baseball field, or reading. His academic interests include World War II, the United States' actions in the Middle East, and epidemic and pandemic history. He has some great insight and advice to share.

Sean responded with the following to one of the questions: “In order to best support students, you have to understand them, listen to them, and ultimately embrace them in some capacity where you are comfortable.”

This is such great advice regardless of the topic!

What are the implications of AI across different age groups? How are you addressing the impact of AI in the upper school classroom?

A.I. to current students is what the Internet was to students from the mid-2000s to 2022, except the implications are broader, more unknown, and more concerning. While the implementation of the Internet into education opened countless pathways for student success, it also provided students with an easy solution to cheating and avoiding work. Initially, educators had to learn how to embrace technology and then counter its negative influences by developing new strategies and programs like Like the initial uses of the Internet in the mid-2000s, AI is at a similar crossroads.

A.I., however, poses much broader, unknown, and concerning problems. Students in K–12, but especially in high school, are impressionable, developing their identities and, importantly, the skills to determine what is and is not legitimate information. AI can recreate any person’s voice, image, or writing, making it nearly impossible to determine if it is a legitimate source.

Currently, the best tools to counter A.I. in the classroom for nefarious purposes include using A.I. detection software from, which is still in its infancy. Using a Google Chrome extension called Drafback is another tool, as it creates a video of a person's edits on their paper. If a student copies and pastes material, it suddenly shows up instead of being a deliberate process. The last tool at an educator's disposal is intuition. One experience I had this year stands out. A student turned in an assignment where she was speaking of American existentialism. Knowing I had not taught the concept, I was immediately suspicious. After asking the student to explain what American existentialism was in person, the student folded and admitted to using A.I. to answer the prompt.

 How can we best support students with this emerging technology?

The best way to support students with this or any emerging technology is to use it yourself and speak with students about how they use it and their views of it. Often, it is easy to dismiss a new technology because it’s not what we learned in our formative years or what we are used to learning. In order to best support students, you have to understand them, listen to them, and ultimately embrace them in some capacity where you are comfortable.

 How are you teaching students to use A.I. for "good?"

There is a perfect analogy to explain A.I. It is like the Wild West. There are few laws and rules regarding its use, and everyone is trying to figure out how to live and survive on the new frontier. I have not taught my students much about how to use A.I. for "good;" however, I am slowly coming to the conclusion that A.I. can be used to help students understand complex documents. For instance, if you ever read the text of any of the Federalist papers or a pre-World War I primary source, you’re going to be faced with extinct prose and vocabulary. Eventually, I see myself teaching students using AI to rewrite the text in modern form so they can better understand the material.

Another way I am teaching my students to use A.I .for "good "is by arguing that if they don’t learn how to write, they will not be able to advance as far in society as they want. A.I. can help strengthen your writing after you have already written it, but you have to do the work first.

What are the learning opportunities for students as A.I. becomes part of their or our lives?

The learning opportunities for students are currently limited. With the technology being so new, curriculum and materials are being developed on the fly. What learning opportunities exist are more about preventing students from misusing them in academic settings than harnessing them. Anecdotally speaking, the learning opportunities don’t really exist yet, but they are learning A.I. technologies by trying them out themselves. For example, my students have recently been working on a project and asked if they could use AI to generate logos or speeches using another person’s voice.

What do you see as the pros and cons of A.I. for students?

Pros of A.I:


·      Developing an understanding of material individually  instead of having to wait for the teacher if their teacher is not immediately available.


·      The ability for A.I. to write practice questions or summarize materials.


·      Streamline and shorten processes so students can focus on tasks that may be more pressing.


Cons of A.I.:


·      Students will use A.I. for nefarious purposes, including cheating and cyberbullying.


·      Students may begin to wonder why learning critical thinking and writing skills is necessary when a machine can do it, leading to greater pushback in classrooms.


·      It will greatly change  jobs and the workplace in ways we cannot predict, leading to disillusionment with education and the institutions of government because they did not prepare them for the A.I. world or protect them from it.


How does A.I. impact social media and students's use or misuse of that platform?


Students, and teenagers in particular, want to fit in. It does not take much for a person’s social status to change from good to bad in an instant. More broadly, A.I. and social media are a concerning point of intersectionality. What concerns me most as an educator and citizen is a domestic or foreign entity spreading harmful, deep-fake material to drive students towards a position they believe is righteous but anathema to the health of democracy and U.S. government interests. In essence, A.I. may be the tool of this generation that leads to increased distrust, polarization, and violence in democratic institutions like schools, making education an even more difficult task.

How are you integrating A.I. into the curriculum (or not)? And how are you protecting students from misuse or misinformation created by A.I.?

I have mostly integrated A.I. into the curriculum by using it for modifications and question creation. I’m using A.I. to provide more individualized instruction and materials for students. The simple way I protect students from misuse or misinformation is by vetting the material created by A.I. For instance, if I had a document rewritten from an 11th-grade reading level to a 7th-grade reading level, I would read it to make sure it was accurate and represented what was presented in the original text.

I also help protect students from A.I. misuse or misinformation by teaching them to be naturally skeptical of the material they are reading or finding. I always encourage them to find a second or third source corroborating their findings. It’s an ongoing process, but anecdotally, my students (juniors and seniors) seemingly understand A.I. is an available tool but one they use sparingly, at least in academics

Thank you, Sean.

By Erin Brady

Erin Brady wears several hats at Bennett as Co-Director of Private Client Services and as one of our Global Team Leads (GTLs). As a GTL, she supports a consultant team that works with families headed to the greater NYC area, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Canada, overseeing their casework and providing updates to our corporate and RMC clients. She also serves as Account Manager of one of Bennett’s largest financial services clients in New York.

Bennett International Education Consultancy works directly with hundreds of families each year across the globe. We support families by helping them make informed decisions about the best-fit schools for their children; with our guidance, they secure placement in preschools, private day schools, public/state schools, boarding schools, colleges & universities, including schools with particular programs, such as special needs support.


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