Worth Saving

Submitted By:
Meghan Tally, Upper School English Tutor, Davidson, NC

Does Learning To Be a Good Writer Still Matter in the Age of A.I.?  by Jeremy Engle
New York Times, January 11, 2024

How Octavia Butler Told the Future by Tiya Miles
The Atlantic, January 12, 2024

In the New York Times Learning Network, Jeremy Engle invites students to respond to Frank Bruni’s December essay “Our Semicolons, Ourselves” – answering questions like “Should educators rethink or change how they teach writing and communication in light of the advances in and accessibility of A.I. tools?” and “Will A.I. technology ever replace the need for people to learn how to write effectively?” How are we creating space and structure for our students (and ourselves) to ask questions of import about what’s worth learning and what kinds of skills and understandings are most urgently needed to address the problems of our world? Bruni’s essay asserts that “Writing is thinking, but it’s thinking slowed down – stilled – to a point where dimensions and nuances otherwise invisible to you appear.” In a recent Atlantic piece, historian Tiya Miles gives us insight into the historical creative process of the late, great speculative fiction writer (and inventor of histofuturism) Octavia Butler, explaining that Butler was “a transtemporal thinker, looking backwards and forward at the same time, and recognizing that key features of the future lay just out of view in the past.” As educators, when we engage with questions like Engle’s, we, too, may enter the realm of transtemporal thinking, looking back and looking forward, making connections and “project[ing] historical patterns.” Notably, Miles believes that “Butler’s vision fits our disorienting moment of flashbacks and fast-forwards” and reminds us that Butler’s novels are – much like our vocation – “ultimately about a humanity worth saving.”

Teaching Practice