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Ms. Leber

May 6, 2023

Writing Skills in the Age of AI

The Role of Writing Skills in the Age of AI

In the age of ChatGPT and other AI writing generators, many people ask: why do I still need writing skills if AI can do it for me? It’s a reasonable question– after all, writing is really hard. Like any skill, good writing needs to be honed through trial and error. What’s the point in improving when emails for work or snappy social media posts are the only substantial writing people do in a day? But like many forms of technology before it, AI will not replace previous methods. At most, these AI tools will serve as auxiliary components to writers because developing writing as a skill isn’t just about being good at writing.

Writing for Retention and Cognitive Benefits

Writing is a valuable means of processing information. We are more likely to retain and recall information written by hand. Writing information down with pen and paper activates more areas of the brain than typing, which makes writing an integral part of the learning process. Analog notebooks and planners increase recall of important information and dates better than their digital counterparts, even with the added benefit of reminders.

Emotional Processing and Therapeutic Power of Writing

Consider the case of Sarah, a high school student preparing for her history exam. Instead of solely relying on AI-generated study materials, she decided to handwrite her notes. As she carefully transcribed the information onto paper, she noticed that she could recall the facts more easily during revision. The act of writing engaged her brain in a unique way, making the learning process more effective. Sarah realized that writing was not just about the end product but also about the cognitive benefits it offered.

But processing isn’t only about learned material. Writing serves as a powerful means of emotional processing, allowing people to explore complicated thoughts, feelings, and experiences, allowing them to work through difficulty. Writing as a therapeutic outlet enables self-reflection, self-discovery, and self-confidence. The very nature of writing seems coded into our brains as a tool for our survival and success.

Effective Writing and Communication Skills

Effective writing translates into effective communication, another skill vital to success in school and beyond. Articulating and expressing thoughts, opinions, and ideas is critical to academic and professional success. Academically, the ability to summarize or paraphrase complex ideas into original thoughts is the best means of demonstrating learning and assessing intellectual growth. Professionally, being an effective communicator is directly related to leadership potential, as leaders must demonstrate the ability to teach, persuade, and inspire those under their guidance. That is why even those who pursue STEM careers still rely on strong writing skills for advancement.

Writing Skills in STEM Careers: John's Story

In this case, let's look at John, a professional engineer who regularly communicates complex ideas through technical reports. Although he had access to AI writing tools, he recognized that his writing skills played a crucial role in his career advancement. John understood that conveying his thoughts clearly and concisely was essential for his colleagues and clients to understand his expertise. While AI could assist him in grammar and style, it was his ability to articulate his ideas that truly set him apart as a leader in his field.

Writing as a Demonstration of Critical Thinking

Employers seek writing as a skill because clear, concise, and cohesive writing demonstrates the ability to recognize patterns, organize thoughts, and analyze information. While writing topical essays may seem tedious and daunting to some, researching, evaluating, developing, and connecting ideas promote a deeper understanding of the research material. The act of writing is critical thinking in practice.

AI Tools as Complementary Enhancements, Not Substitutes

Ultimately, AI tools like ChatGPT should be complementary rather than substitutes for human writing skills. Strong writers can leverage these tools to enhance their productivity, refine their work, and gain new insights. Instead of relying on AI to write for them, it will serve as a tool for editing, proofreading, and generating ideas. But even the best AI technology will never fully replace the human spirit of the writer’s voice. Writing is about empathy and understanding, elements that even the most sophisticated AI will never truly be able to replicate.

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