A Message to Students About ‘The Bot’

In a world where students are taught to write like robots, it’s no surprise that a robot can write for them, Julia McKenzie Munemo writes.


As the director of the writing center at Williams College, I’ll admit to having reached out to a few writing center directors at other colleges in recent weeks with a message that said, more or less, “We’re toast.”

That’s because no essay produced by the artificial intelligence chat bot that has unsettled so many of us in higher education will contain a typo, misplace a modifier, overuse the comma or—and on this you can defiantly depend—misspell an adverb. By and large, those are the issues students visit my writing center to discuss. We’ve come to see the goal of writing as getting to our point quickly, making a strong argument and concluding carefully, all with perfect grammar and syntax. But anyone who has revised a paper, come back to an idea after a sleep or a walk or a shower, or worked with a tutor to brainstorm new directions will tell you that the true goal of writing is to clarify, understand and experience our own thinking.

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