Writing is indeed magic and essays are still worthwhile

“Writing is nature‚Äôs way of letting you know how sloppy your thinking is”

I agree with the author of this post titled Writing is Magic. Regardless of who said it, the sentiment is still true.

Writing is indeed magic. A friend of mine recently asked if the highschool essay is worthwhile. We’ve been discussing the impacts of ChatGPT for a while now, ever since it broke through like the Koolaid Man into mainstream consciousness.

Writing serves as a way to help us structure our thoughts so that we can communicate them more efficiently. One of my favorite investors and technologists, Paul Graham, writes a lot and occasionally he writes about writing.

“I think it’s far more important to write well than most people realize. Writing doesn’t just communicate ideas; it generates them. If you’re bad at writing and don’t like to do it, you’ll miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated.”

ChatGPT is only a threat to the essay style of learning if what is produced is of no importance. If the teacher is not like my friend Tim above who reads what his students write in order to help debug their thinking then there is little value in the essay the students are asked to write in the first place and it doesn’t matter if they write it or ChatGPT does, its chaff that will be blown away in either case.

On the contrary, I have another friend who has advocated for years for homeschool kids to take the lead in writing Wikipedia articles. Everyone reads Wikipedia so the work they do wouldn’t be lost.

One of the best schools in the nation I would argue is Hillsdale college. I have been consistently impressed by the students and Alumni I’ve come across from that school. I don’t think its a coincidence that the school is also knows for requiring its students to write. And they regularly publish the interesting pieces from students in their newsletter Imprimus.