AI and Debate Interview — Part I

Part 1

Eric Byron  0:09  

Welcome to the Education Innovators Podcast. I’m Eric Byron. And it’s an honour to host this show where we get to hear from talented educators who are willing to share their stories of the incredible things they are doing in learning environments all over the world.

Stefan Bauschard  0:27 

The idea of debate-centered instruction is that you learn through debating, or you learn through the preparation of the debate before the debate. You have to learn your arguments, share your ideas, develop your ideas. You learn while you’re debating versus the process in and of itself.

Eric Byron  0:46  

That’s the voice of Stefan Bauschard, the debate coach and advocate for debate-centered instruction. This episode is part one of my fun conversation with Stefan, a fellow Boston Red Sox fan. It was as if we were old friends, as we debated the potential benefits of debate-centered instruction. We’re always looking for new and innovative forms of active learning. Listen to Stefan explain how debate can be a great tool to engage students and develop durable skills, skills we know are critical to their success in life. Today, I have with me, Stefan Bauschard, and Stefan recently published a book titled and bear with me, this is a really long title here, “Chat(GPT): Navigating the Impact of Generative AI Technologies on Educational Theory and Practice: Educators Discuss ChatGPT and other Artificial Intelligence Tools.” And to go with such a long title, apparently the book is like over 650 pages, something like that. And it features 32 authors with expertise in education, technology, and the law. Stefan has run many webinars and classes on teaching with generative AI. He is also an experienced, very experienced, debate coach and nonprofit leader with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. But today, today, we’re not going to talk so much about the AI specific thing or the book, we’re going to talk about a paper that Stefan did that I read. And it’s called “Beyond Algorithmic Solutions: The Significance of Academic Debate for Learning Assessment and Skill Cultivation in the AI World.” So I found this paper, this fascinating, I reached out stuff and he said, “All right, we got to have a debate about debate.”

Stefan Bauschard  2:35  

A meta debate, they call it.

Eric Byron  2:38  

Okay, good. All right. There’s a term for this. All right. I know I’m in trouble already, right.

Stefan Bauschard  2:42  

Well, you can imagine the debate coaches debate about you know, what the format of the debate should be, the topics the students debate about sometimes.

Eric Byron  2:50  

Sure. Yeah, yeah. All right. So Stefan is like the debate king. And I’ve challenged him to an informal and friendly debate about debate-centered instruction or DCI as it’s referred to in the paper. So Stefan has been doing this since like, 1984, which, by the way, is the year that I ran off and joined the circus. But that’s a different story for another time. But he’s been coaching and developing debate programs, really, since you graduated from Wake Forest, right? About 1995? And I’m guessing you’re sitting there thinking, I pity the fool that challenged me to a debate and for the young folks out there, if you don’t get that, Mr. T. That’s right. Yes. Okay. All right. Before we jump into the debate, I do have to ask about your career, because I’m fascinated by this. I’ve never met anybody who made a career out of debating. So so how does this happen? Did you just like create a job that didn’t exist? Debate coach, or something?

Stefan Bauschard  3:53  

I mean, it’s not, yeah, I didn’t really, you know, not from scratch. I mean, when I grew up, you know, it’s primarily teachers and, you know, professors who were debate coaches, and, you know, a professor might get like a release period, a teacher would get paid a little bit extra, but it was actually, just before that time I entered Wake Forest that a few universities started hiring full time debate coaches. So you know, they would have their professors who would often have graduate students who, you know, like in every other context, get stuck with a lot of the work. And then some of them like Wake Forest and Dartmouth, those are a couple jump out, hired full time debate coaches, and it became a little more common, and then it started happening at the, at the high school level as well. So I didn’t really create that idea. You know, I was a little bit lucky in that, when I came into it and wanted to be a debate coach, I knew I wanted to be a debate coach since I was in high school, there became more full time opportunities for that. You know, I did build some businesses around it and worked with some nonprofits to develop some programs which you know, also helped me. So you know, there was that on top of it, but it wasn’t the idea of kind of a full time debate coach, wasn’t something I invented. It just grew as I grew.

Eric Byron  5:04  

Yeah. Cool. I didn’t realize. I mean, I know that universities pay just outrageous money for football coaches. But I’m guessing…

Stefan Bauschard  5:13  

Well us debate coaches, whether high school or university, we don’t we don’t make anywhere near the amount of money that football coaches make. But yeah. You know in Texas, full time high school football coaches, believe it or not, so, you know, not as popular elsewhere. But no, we don’t, we don’t really get paid that well, by the institutions we work for, so. Yeah, it’s okay.

Eric Byron  5:35  

Okay. All right. Well, anyways, you’re doing something you love, and you’re passionate about…

Stefan Bauschard  5:40  

Yeah, I do, I’m doing something I love, so that’s good.

Eric Byron  5:43  

Yes, bless you for that. So, let’s talk about this concept of debate-centered instruction. So first, can you kind of give us a definition? What does that really mean? 

Stefan Bauschard  5:55  

Well, you know, there’s two ways that, you know, students participate in debate, right, like, the one is the way you may have been thinking about it, right, they can be in a club, and the club becomes a team because you’re competing against other schools. So you know, some people say the debate club, that’s where like, you argue amongst yourselves after school for fun, debate team, you go out and compete, then there’s also the you know, and of course, that includes instruction, both in how to debate how to tackle your topics, how to persuade people, those types of things, that’s all included. What we begin to try to unpack in the paper a little bit more using the competitive debate as a model, right, it’s how to use it in the classroom. Because obviously, that can, that’s going to affect more students, right? Only so many students are going to join the debate team, from one way or another be interested in the competitive side of it. But the idea of debate-centered instruction is that you learn through debating, or you learn through the preparation of the debate before the debate, right? You have to learn your arguments and share your ideas, develop your ideas. You learn while you’re debating, of course, through the process, in and of itself. So the idea is to put debate at the center of instruction. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s the only thing that teacher does, or it has to even be primarily what the teacher does, but it can be a process, right? It can be, you know, an instructional strategy, just like, you know, there are other instructional strategies. In the classroom, it’s more interactive. So some people who like active learning are into it. It can be cooperative, depending on how its structured. So, you have those cooperative learning theories, obviously, now, people are talking a lot about performance based assessments, because writing has its issues, right? Like in terms of knowing, you know, what those students wrote, it didn’t write and all these things. And so these performance things, and there’s also other academic benefits, right?  Like we talked about in the paper, and actually, my friend, Alan Coverstone, who has a, you know, he has a PhD in education, he was an education department chair, he ran a charter school network, he does consulting now, really kind of unpacked, you know, the theory behind it. When students are actively learning, they’re engaged in that learning. They actually can learn more, right. And that’s something. There is there’s a book by Robert Lifton, from the Brookings Institute, from 20—, he published two versions, so sometimes they say 2018 and 2020, where he talks about debate-centered instruction. He does say there needs to be some more studies on this, you know, that it actually, you know, empirically, I guess, produces the learning. There’s some good evidence, empirical, actually strong empirical research from the competitive side of it, people who studied the competitive side of it, it’s structured a little bit differently, that demonstrates some learning. But there’s, you know, beyond the debate specifics, there’s obviously a lot of research, you know, that at least argues that when students are more engaged in the learning, and they tend to remember it, right, which actually can bring up the question, right, you could say, well, what were you learning mean, you know, if I cram before a test, you know, it was when I was in college, and I had to I was doing all my debate work all semester, right. I really, like took my Intro to Psychology book, and I read it, and I highlighted it, and I memorized it. And I studied it. And I did really well on the test. Beyond kind of the basic principles of psychology that I probably learned in high school, I couldn’t tell you anything, right, about psychology. At least, that I learned from that class, right? But I did well, I got an A, right? But it’s because I crammed for the test. So you know, that can be effective, right? You can cram and learn and take a test. You remember that. I do tend to remember this stuff I’ve learned it in debate, part of it because I’ve been doing this so long, a lot of similar topics come up— climate changes, types of things. But I do maybe I didn’t learn as much or maybe I don’t remember every detail of it all. But I think I learned more debating. Some people tell me that’s because I spent all my time doing debate work. But so that was probably a variable that impacted impact how much I learned from debate. But I think you know, that’s something that people people started looking at, even before artificial intelligence, right, there’s movement in general to…

Eric Byron  9:40  

Well, let’s talk about learning there because, for me, and your paper does get into this a little bit, right, on durable skills. Right? So to me, it’s not about you know, knowledge acquisition, memorising something, learning some data point, because, honestly, in today’s world, those skills are completely obsolete, right? If I hire somebody in the real world, I hire an engineer, I could care less whether they remember, you know, what was in their psychology course. I care about what they can do. And if they need to look something up, look it up. Right, your speed and your ability to look something up is much more important to me than your ability to remember some random fact. So, so yes, that ability to cram and regurgitate on an exam. And, and I can tell you, I did lots of that. I was good at that, I was a good student because I could do that. And I know a lot of students who couldn’t, and they hated me. Come in at the last minute, and, and study and then you know, aced the test. Anyway, that’s, that’s a whole nother issue. What I want to dig into though, is what I immediately perceive as a, a problem with debate is an activity for most students, right? It’s like, and I don’t want school to sound so cliquey. But you know, when I was growing up right there were the, the athletes— the jocks, as we called them, right— and then there were the nerdy kids. I fell somewhere in between, I was both in theater and band. And I also played some sports, but I was probably more on the nerdy side. And so debate would have been fine for me. But for a lot of kids, this is like, like, would be torture, asking me to stand in front of a class and make some verbal, you know, argument about something. So how do you get past that, that problem of that, probably a significant portion of the student population… And I live in Asia, I mean, here, kids are really passive don’t want to speak up, you know, this would be would be horrifying for for many kids, if you were if you told them, you’ve got to get up in front of a class, and, and present an argument or something. So how do you get past that problem?

Stefan Bauschard  12:02  

Well, you know, I mean, you bring up two issues, right? You bring you bring up the nerdy issue, right? Which is kind of embedded, right? It’s especially, it gets a little embedded even more in American culture than, you know, Asian culture. In my experience, you know. I built some debate programs, you know, in China, and one of the chaperones, which told me, she said, “Well, we don’t really have as much of the like, jock-nerd divide. All the, you know, the kids want to do well in school.” So, you know, there’s that. So I don’t know that everyone’s gonna go out and join the debate team, there are different things you can do to build interest there. But you know, you also bring up the classroom, right? Like, how is it gonna, won’t these kids be, you know, so afraid to get up and speak, right? I agree. Many of them will be, right. And that, well, to me, first of all, that kind of reinforces the point, right? Because, you know, as you just previously mentioned, right, these are, these are the skills and you know, there are these debates about content, right. And obviously, I think kids need to learn some content. And in the course of learning content, you learn to learn, right? So I think that’s valuable, even if you if you don’t remember everything. But, if the students are going to have durable skills, they’re skills. You develop skills through practice, right? Just like soccer. You can’t, you can’t just tell a student how to play soccer, and then have them go play soccer. They have to practice playing soccer, or, you know, they have to practice their part in the play. Right? Whatever it is. So it’s the same that applies to debate. The only way you’re going to eventually become a better speaker, and learn how to think through an idea and make an argument is to actually do it, yes? So it invites fear. But if the response is like, “Well, these students are afraid, so we’re not going to do it,” then it’s never going to happen. And they’re never going to develop the skills, right, that you just said, were essential, right? I think we’re in complete agreement there. Now, how do you do that? Right? So that’s a question like, well, how do you take that kid, you know, and get them to do it? Well, you know, there are some ways you can start, and we didn’t unpack that. We unpacked it a little bit in the paper, and we’re developing developing some additional materials, but you have to start with a small debate. Right? So you’re starting with kids giving like a one minute speech or a thirty-second speech. And you don’t have to do that in front of the whole room. So maybe…

Eric Byron  14:06  

Maybe I should just text you my argument?

Stefan Bauschard  14:09  

Yeah, there’s that. No, you can break the room into sections. And the kids can present arguments with each other, or they’re presenting in a group of four. You know, if you’re in a debate tournament, unless you really reach the finals, you make it into the eliminations, you’re not presenting in front of like, a hundred people. What happens in a debate tournament is, you know, generally a debate’s two-on-two, it can be three-on-three or one-on-one. Whatever format you’re using, say, you and I were debate partners, we’d go to room like 216, we’d debate two other kids, and there would be a judge. Right? So I’m just, I’m just debating those two other kids. You know, I’m getting some feedback from a judge. You tell a judge when the students are new to be very supportive and encouraging, that your only goal is to get them to come back and debate again, right? Because it’s a learning process. So that’s one of the first things, even though you have to keep the debate short, you have to keep the speeches short. You have to kind of give them isolated activities, you know, in a classroom, like, in a small area, I would never have a student on their first thing come up and speak in front of the class, right, that would like, probably melt them down. And I think you have to understand that it is a skill. And like, as you pointed out a lot of kids, I’ve never done it, right, or even anything similar. And I tell you a lot of that a lot of faculty haven’t done it. I’ll tell you a story about that in a minute. But I think you need to, you know, keep that in mind. You have to calibrate your expectations. You know, I’m in a group called the Higher Ed Professors of Writing. I’m not I’m not a higher ed professor of writing. But since I got involved, it’s all about AI. It’s a group that was started by a professor like last January, that now it’s like 5000 members, and they talk about AI in writing, which I’m very interested in. I mean, that’s how I ended up in there. And it was talking about debate, and one of the professors said, “Oh, well, can you send me, you know, how you do it?” “Because,” she said, “I tried to have a debate in class. But you know, the kids were just reading things, the debate wasn’t very good.” And I was thinking, well, it was their very first time so yes, like, of course, it wasn’t very good, right? If you go to a competitive debate tournament, where the kids have probably even had more practice before they get there. I mean, no offence to the kids— the debates are pretty bad, right? But that’s not the point, right? It’s like, when you go watch little kids play soccer, they’re pretty bad. Like they don’t even have offsides rules, they are just kicking the ball, they kick it out of bounds, they kick it into the wrong goal, right? So the same thing is gonna happen inside those debates, but I also think that teachers need some training. I, you know, started this debate program in Japan, and we had the finals at a university. And the professors— the university was great, they were very supportive— they had the professors, you know, be the judges. And they said, “You got to come in, and you got to judge at this debate tournament.” Whether they liked it or not, they were there. And you know, after they did the training, the one professor said, “Well, what if a student gets up there, and they’re really nervous, and they can’t, they can’t really give their speech?” And I said, “Well, you’re a professor,” I said, “you’ve probably had similar things happening in the classroom where, you know, maybe a student got really nervous, or, you know, they felt insecure, whether it was a debate, a speech, or anything in the classroom, right? Maybe was a group project, or…” Yeah, I said, “You just have to encourage them, right? You have to encourage them to go on, obviously, if you think they can’t go on then, you know, find a way to kind of end it and sit down, right?” But, you know, it occurred to me as much classroom experience as that Professor probably had— he looked a little bit older, so he was probably teaching maybe 20 or 30 years— it’s just, you know, oh my gosh, well, if I have a debate, and the kid can’t really do it, what’s gonna happen? It’s like, well use, use your human skills, right?

Eric Byron 17:30  

Use your durable skills, right?

Stefan Bauschard  17:31  

Use your durable skills to kind of manage the situation help the student through it, I explained that all the kids had debated before. So you know, what’s in their first time, so we probably wouldn’t have those situations. But you do have to build it up, you have to gradually build it in because you’re right. A lot of students don’t have any experience. I mean, I remember the first time I went to China, we started the debate program, you know, and the classes we’d go to these really, some of the best public schools in China where we started this program. You know, classes would have, like, 50 students. So of course, there wasn’t a lot of like, you know, data, dynamic, project based, whatever you want to call it, authentic learning going on here. One teacher, 50 kids, so it’s mostly lecture, right? And yeah, and kind of regurgitation. So, you know, those students didn’t have a lot of experience, but they really shine. You know, they really, they really caught on, especially the girls, the girls are a little stronger. But yeah, so it was it was great. And they did well, and they’ve come out, you know, the one. I haven’t kept track of her recently. So this was 10 years ago when we started and I remember one of the original because my I recruited a friend of mine, who’s in Nanjing foreign language school. So he was there. And she was one of his stronger debaters, Rosalind and then she went to the Harvard debate camp, which I was running with someone at the time. And then But anyhow, she went through she went to, I forget where she went to college in the US summer in Boston, maybe Wellesley and then she went to Harvard Law School. And, you know, her pay, she wasn’t an international student. Her dad was a botanist, a Chinese botanist, and her mother was Chinese. She grew up in China. She went to public school, right? Cuz you know, it’s odd times. One thing I love this lot international schools and you know, they’re basically American, American Chinese, right? So, right, but no, she wasn’t, she…

Eric Byron  19:14  

I am curious…

Stefan Bauschard  19:16  

She learned to speak English…

Eric Byron  19:17  

Were these debate programs done in English?

Stefan Bauschard  19:19  

Yeah, so all the debate programs are done in English because the cohort of students were generally students who wanted to go to school, either in the United States or the UK for the most part. So, and they were going through, I was working with a company, it’s still there, I still do work with them, and they had programs in the schools to prepare students to take either, they would either go through the IB program, or the, I forget what the UK one is called. They would kind of basically choose one of those programs, and they would go through that and of course, they still had some classes in there, in their regular school, but they were Chinese students in Chinese public schools who were kind of doing this program on top of it. So we had everything in English— now, the very first year, the government wanted us to have something in Chinese. So at the national tournament, which is at RDFZ in Beijing, which I guess people tell me is the number one high school in China, there’s probably some debate about that. But the government really wanted us to have debates in Chinese. So you know, there was this whole other Chinese division debate that was going on, that I wasn’t really paying much attention to. But then they asked me, you know, so at the end, so that we had the English finals, which I judged, and then you know, it was the Chinese finals are up. So a couple of my friends were there from America. So I just figured, we’re gonna head out and you know, go walk around, we’ll come back. They said, “Oh, no, we need you to judge this, judge.” I don’t even speak Chinese. They said, just sit there, they want you to, they want you to just sit there. And I tell you what, we didn’t understand a word they were saying. And this goes to the durable skills point. Yeah, both of us guessed who we thought won the debate. And in fact, they were the team that won the debate. We didn’t understand any of their arguments, yeah, body language, speaking. Now, look, you know, the other team was strong, too, right? So I’m sure there, there are a bunch of good arguments kind of floating around. But you know, that factor, you know, really, really, really played out. And, you know, for a while, like I said, I’ve kind of lost track of some of them. Last time I saw, you know, Rosalind went to Harvard Law School. But there are a couple— one became like a fashion designer, and, you know, they’re all kids. So part of it, you’re taking in, you know, obviously, the kids excel in a competitive sense. They have some talent for that. It’s just like, it’s like a sport, right? Like, you know, I mean, if you’re coordinated, and you have muscles, and you know, all those kinds of things, right? You kind of excel at sports, these kids had some persuasion skills here, a little more personal. But the point is, you could take any kids in the classroom, like, I remember my I went to my friend, Tom, he was teaching in a big class, there were like, 80 kids in it, because we didn’t really have enough coaches, right? He’s teaching all these kids, and, you know, like I said, I remember a few. But, you know, all those kids were learning, right? Like they’re trying to write their speeches. They wrote a speech, they gave a speech, they did a little bit of debating. You know, it wasn’t anywhere near what some of these other kids accomplished. But every kid learns, right, so that’s the one thing in the classroom, of course, you’re gonna have every kid debate in a debate tournament, every kid debates, and they’ll all debate at least a certain number of debates. Now. It’s like the, you know, if you’re familiar with the NCAA basketball tournament, right, eventually moved to a bracket of, you know, they have 64, right? And then you go down in the debate, March Madness. Yeah, March Madness, it’s usually like, you know, so that everybody will have like, between four and six debates, and then you’ll take, you know, it’s usually like the top 32, or the top 16. And then they’ll go down that single elimination and have a champion. And there’s another, there are some other speech events. I don’t have as much background in that, but the one we had in China was original oratory. And the kids who struggled with speaking English, especially, or they had less time, they would do original oratory, which is really just a problem-solution speech that they have to write and memorize. So, you know, even though they were just giving a speech, they weren’t really doing the debating part that gave them opportunities, and especially younger kids would do that. And even in China, now, they have a little bit of elementary school kids that giving speeches, it’s kind of cute. But that helps get that out. And that, you know, when you the younger you are, the less afraid you are, for better or worse.

Eric Byron  23:20  

Right? Yeah, no, I think that would be one of the keys is starting them young. Right, if they’ve been doing this all along through their programs, their education, part of the curriculum, say part of the pedagogy. Much, much easier. You tried to introduce this in you know, high school or college, it would be a bit harder. But yes, the earlier they…

Stefan Bauschard  23:43  

Yeah, it is, you know, it starts too in high school, kids start to, you know, your kids kind of go more into sports, they’ve got their group of friends. Because that’s the one thing you’ll see in high school. If somebody comes in, then it’s kind of their friends that come, right. So yeah, so you know, originally debate was in high school and college. It wasn’t until about around 2000, the latest probably closer to like, 2005-ish, you started having more middle school debate. Middle school in the US, anyhow. Middle school debate’s really grown in the US. It grew in Asia a lot because you know, one thing at least in China, you know, the kids are so they’re, you know, they get really overloaded academically, right? So in America, it’s like well, do you play sports? Or are you a nerd? Right, and at least in China, and you know, I saw some of this in Korea, too, it’s like, well you’re already taking like, when school is over, you go to school, right, especially in Korea they have the hagwons, right? Then in China, and then for a long time in China had all the online classes which itcut down on for a little bit, but kids kids were just really booked academically, right? So in China, it wasn’t like, well are you going to be an athlete or a debater? It’s like, you’re going to be debater or you’re going to take like nine other courses when the school in the school day is over. But anyhow, that puts…

Eric Byron  24:59  

It’s either piano or violin, right? Usually, yes, they play a musical instrument. And yes, they have..

Stefan Bauschard  25:07  

You know, they have a lot going on, you know, academically, so, you know, there, it seemed like kind of the relative, you know, the parents say, “Well, how, you know, how strong is this compared to, you know, some something else, right that you’re doing?” Whereas in the US, I feel like, you know, if you’re on the debate team, your parents are pretty excited that you’re doing something productive, right?

Eric Byron  25:26  

Yeah, I get that. All right. I want to dig in a little bit. So the paper makes this case, if you will, that in the AI world, this is even more important. So, help me tie that together. Why is debate skills debate programs, debate-centred instruction more important when there’s AI in the context than previous?

Stefan Bauschard  25:56  

Well, you know, there’s a couple of reasons. The one is that, you know, people genuinely make this argument that we need to shift to more performative type assessments, because obviously, especially, you know, and this is probably even more true in the university level, right? Like, university level professors rely on papers or exams, right? So unless we’re going to go back and do more exams, right, then what are we going to do outside of that, and one thing I’ve learned in when I talked to K-12 audiences, I always emphasise this: it’s like, you guys are way ahead of the university people because you’ve thought about it more. In the K-12 world, they thought more about, like construction and learning. They have experience with these performative, you know, assessments or project based learning, right, those types of things. So, you know, in the college it’s going to be a little bit more of a change, because they’re more reliant on the paper, but that makes it even more important. Right. We could we could talk more about the whole paper thing, I have a lot of thoughts on that, but I think the point, that the general point there, right, is that we need assessments, right, that are that are not come the end of the semester, come back with a 30 page paper, because in reality, we’re not going to know who wrote it. The second thing is, you know, what you brought up earlier. Right, like…

Eric Byron  27:06  

I want to make sure that point came out, right? You said, right, when they write the paper, we’re not going to know who wrote it, right. When they bring the paper?

Stefan Bauschard  27:14  

Well yeah, I mean, that’s a broad statement, right? And, you know, there’s all kinds of different things people develop, well, you know, I’ll make you turn in your paper, like every day, and you can show me the progress those types of things, right. But, you know, most people don’t have a lot of time, but I know when I did it, and this got me through many classes, I was genuinely like, turning the paper at the end of the semester, maybe there was like, a one time like, give me your outline or something like that. It was basically just give me the paper, right. And, yeah, I mean, a lot, you know, and I can rattle off, like, a whole bunch of reasons, right, like…

Eric Byron  27:42  

Well that’s a workload issue, probably more than anything else, right?

Stefan Bauschard  27:45  

Well yeah, you know, and especially some people said, like, you know, somebody had a whole list of things, you know, professors could do to have all these different checks along the way of kids writing the paper, and someone said, “Well, you know, I do have TAs, but I teach a lecture class of 400 students. So it’s not really possible for even with the TAs to, you know, have these check-ins, right.” So, you know, and that can make debate a little complicated. But the point there is, like, people are really making the papers more difficult. You’ve seen, of course, online and things that some professors have, you know, thought through this a lot. And they have their own, you know, maybe it’s not debate they come up with, it doesn’t have to be right debate, I’m say suggesting debate is one option, right? Different ways that you can assess the performance in the classroom. And the second thing is, you know, to go back to what you said at the very beginning, right there, there is a shift more towards the skills, right, and developing skills, because, you know, some people call them soft skills, right? Some people call them durable skills, durable skills sounds stronger, soft sounds like the same set of skills, right?

Eric Byron  28:45  

I like the term durable, yes.

Stefan Bauschard  28:46  

Yeah, and soft just sounds like, it’s just kind of soft. Like, do we really need, they’re not that important. Like hard skills, like science or it or something like that? Right? So do you see this shift towards skills which communication, persuasion, critical thinking, collaboration, you know, if it’s a leadership, if you’re on a team, it gives you some leadership. There was just a survey put out by the it was a brief article on LinkedIn, by the CEO of LinkedIn. And, you know, of course, they have all the data, right? So a lot of times you can speculate, academics can speculate or do a survey of, you know, a certain set of people, but they have all their data from all of LinkedIn. And they said the number one demand from employers is the soft skills, right? And I’m using “soft” there because that’s what they use. The second is generative AI and the third is like, you know, content.

Eric Byron  29:34  

Yeah. Did you see the World Economic Forum’s report?

Stefan Bauschard  29:38  

Yeah, so you know, I’ve been making that argument. And you know, you can find you know, the World Health Organization’s made that argument. People have also been making that argument before AI that we need to learn more, that students need more skills. And AI, now, obviously, people say well, the knowledge right, this is you know, they call it the knowledge worker, right. Like what’s going to happen to the knowledge worker, and you know, you have people like Yann LeCun, who I’ve been following more, he’s the Chief Scientist and made a professor at NYU. He’s really one of the people behind these, this type of, you know, AI that the neural network based AI, right? And he said, Oh— I was listening to a podcast with him— He says, you know, “In the future, we’re all just going to have five like AI’s that are smarter than us working for us.” Right? So in that, when that happens, then kind of everyone is, you know, they call they call this a crater economy, right? And that has this cool little vibe to it, right? But the basic idea, everyone’s kind of building their own business, starting their own thing, accomplishing everything, and then how, how am I what am I adding to that? Right? Like, how am I enhanced by AI? Because I’m communicating with you, right? Because it go to you and say, Eric, you know, like, my business does this and your business does this, like, let’s, let’s get our AI’s to set up some appointments, right? And let’s talk and, you know, combine what we’re doing and let’s interact, that becomes the dividing point. Not now who can like maybe you who’s better at like math unless you’re just like in the stratosphere, right? Because the AI is there going to be able to do everything, you know, sure. We’re still going to need the Yann LeCun’s and, you know, the Geoffrey Hinton’s to do like the stratospheric math, right? But most people, that’s not what they’re going to be doing. Engineering is going to change, right? It’s going to be creative, right? When you see all these cool ads that are being generated by AI, right. And it’s really the creativity, there’s a Pepsi ad that uses some kind of regular people. And then it also uses some AI and some other types of technologies I’m not familiar with. And they produce this really cool ad. But that took creativity. And of course, it requires some basic use of the technology. And like I say, people do need to learn to learn. That’s one thing, I’ve spent so much time in debate. Generative AI, I mean, sure it existed before November 2022. But no, hardly anybody used it, right? Like, if you go look at the old, Midjourney images, I mean, they were terrible, right search those. Before that, computer, people in computers were using it, it was starting to write code. And it’s really the consumer and it kind of became popularised with the release of ChatGPT, right. And everybody’s kind of using it now. Well, at least not maybe not everybody, but a lot of people right, are using it. And that’s really going to change, you know, how we live, how we learn, how we work, it’s going to change the world. And, you know, a lot of these people at the top are, you know, really kind of saying the same things. And these are the skills that we’re going to need to develop.

Eric Byron  32:28  

You’ve got to love this, a debate about debate as an active learning tool. Stefan is truly an expert. And the conversation has been fascinating and informative for me. And hopefully for you. We continue the discussion in part two, as Stefan gets a lot more into a discussion of AI, and why debate skills are that much more important, as AI use inevitably increases in schools. If you’re enjoying this podcast, please subscribe and share. We have more awesome guests with amazing stories of innovation and education that you don’t want to miss. Please reach out if you have comments or suggestions, or you just want to have a debate with me. I’m Eric Byron, thanks for listening. And thanks to all those education innovators out there. You are making a difference.