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Mentors and AI

The internet was supposed to disrupt traditional education. With easy access to information, opinions, and answers, one can not only learn technical knowledge (like searching simple questions such as “What is oxygen?”), but also embark on a journey towards mastery 1. Who needs teachers when there’s Wikipedia, YouTube University, Reddit - just to name a few? Personally, I’ve learned more about physics and chemistry from these sources than I did in school.

The internet broke the education system by eliminating the role of “the teacher”. However, it still required someone to distill information, ask questions, and create outputs such as essays.

And with that in mind, AI now has the ability to replace both. It can replace teachers by curating information about a topic and distilling it into plain human language, free of disciplinary jargon. It can also replace students by writing papers and other assignments. Essentially, it eleminates the social roles people used to play.

In that situation, mentors may be the only way to continue the human-to-human teaching process. They are able to stay one step ahead and can be more efficient in the creative and experiential aspects of the learning journey. This is partly because they have already mastered a particular skill (Gallwey, 1974). Even if it’s just one mastered experience, it is worth a thousand words compared to structured learning plans 2.

References

Footnotes

  1. Ahrens, S. (2017). How to take smart notes: one simple technique to boost writing, learning and thinking - for students, academics and nonfiction book writers. Sönke Ahrens.

  2. Gallwey, T. (1974). The inner game of tennis. New York: Random House.