Artificial Writers: The Brain-Snatchers | Alden Blodget | 7 Min Read

January 5, 2023

Like most students over the past 100 or so years, I learned to write essays by rote repetition of the lifeless five-paragraph formula: introduction leading to a thesis (typically, some version of the teacher’s perspective), three body paragraphs with evidence, and a conclusion that essentially paraphrased what I had done. Now, the world is all atwitter because we have arrived at the logical conclusion of this mechanistic approach to writing: Artificial intelligence can relieve us of this dreary work. If the purpose of learning to write were simply to crank out formulaic essays, this development in AI might be cause for celebration. But the act of writing serves other purposes and offers many more benefits.

Perhaps the most powerful of these is that writing helps writers discover what they think. Unfortunately, although some teachers use the five-paragraph essay approach only briefly as an effective scaffold, its (more common) long-term use has led too many students to believe that writers need to know what they want to say before they begin to write. They must, so pedagogical pathology demands, formulate their thesis and outline the three sub-topics and their evidence. But, actually, although writers typically have some…

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Alden Blodget

Veteran teacher and administrator Alden S. "Denny" Blodget is the author of "Learning, Schooling and the Brain: New Research vs. Old Assumptions." He also helped create the Annenberg Foundation's Neuroscience & the Classroom. He is the editor for, a free online resource focusing on issues affecting young people and the adults who work with them.