Do You Want to Prepare Your Students for the AI World? Support Your Speech and Debate Team Now | Stefan Bauschard | 9 Min Read

August 24. 2023

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak to school superintendents, instructional superintendents, principals, CTOs, and other school leaders about generative AI and education.

When introducing myself, I discussed my life-long commitment to speech and debate and pointed out that while some are arguing that education is facing some sort of “apocalypse,” in many instances, we simply need to place more emphasis on the things we’ve been doing well in schools for over 100 years, such as supporting speech and debate programs.

Why? Because as AI continues to develop, it’s going to diminish (not replace) the value of learning content relative to developing skills. And as it begins to replace some jobs and job functions while also creating new jobs (Goldman Sachs), humans need to focus on those essential skills that will help them adapt to a world where many tasks that require advanced knowledge can be delegated to AI, and where constantly changing job needs will require life-long learning and adaptability.

These essential skills include curiosity, motivation, continuous learning, interpersonal communication, teamwork, persuasion, resilience, time management, media literacy, analytic thinking, complex information processing and interpretation, and critical thinking and decision-making. These essential skills are called “soft” or durable” skills and many (McKinsey & Company, 2023; Hutson & Ceballos, 2023; KPMG Big Innovation Center, 2023; World Economic Forum, 2023; Roslansky, 2023) argue they are essential in what Bill Gates has called “AI World.”

Some argue that these skills are essential because they protect and enrich the “human advantage,” allowing us to excel in areas that machines cannot.

But even if machines are eventually able to match and exceed the intelligence of humans in all domains in which humans are considered intelligent (LeCunn), something that is highly debatable (no pun intended), successful humans will still need all these skills, whether they are interacting with intelligent machines or humans. These are the skills that enable us to “shape our destiny” in the AI World (Brynjolffson) and in any world.

And regardless of the reasons we need them, the reality is that these skills are the ones most in demand from employers. They are even in greater demand than AI skills.

Ryan Roslansky, the CEO of LinkedIn, shared these facts in a post on August 15th.

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Stefan Bauschard

Stefan Bauschard and Dr. Sabba Quiadwai have developed a program combining principles of Design Thinking with AI literacy to help schools transition to an AI world, using practical steps, including a discussion format designed to help leaders think about the immediate future. They are currently working with leading school districts across the country. Stefan has also co-developed an AI literacy program for K-12 students with Dr. Anand Rao that has supported the development of AI literacy among students in the United States and China.