In an era of rapid technological advancement, the dynamic interplay between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Human Intelligence (HI) is shaping the future of education. As we peer into the horizon, it becomes increasingly clear that our approach to preparing the next generation for the challenges and opportunities that await must evolve. Here, we explore how AI and HI are set to play harmonious, complementary roles in the realm of preschool education and beyond.

1. The future of professions

Future skills in professions

Before we embark on this educational journey, it is crucial to envision the future professions that will shape the educational landscape. Two significant examples illustrate the evolving role of AI in various fields:

  • Legal domain. AI is poised to transform tasks like drafting contracts and streamlining legal processes for efficiency. However, human professionals will continue to add substantial value through skills such as negotiation, consensus facilitation, and nuanced application of legal principles. AI streamlines tasks but doesn’t replace human expertise in consensus building, complex decision-making, and ethical considerations.
  • Medicine. In the field of medicine, AI is becoming an essential tool for precise diagnostics, enhancing healthcare outcomes. Nevertheless, the indispensable human touch, encompassing empathy, encouragement, and guiding patients through emotional and psychological challenges, remains irreplaceable. Medical professionals will increasingly focus on building patient relationships and providing emotional support, preserving the human dimension of healthcare.

2. The role of students


“Future-proofing” students for a rapidly evolving world equips students to be both AI-competent and distinctly human.

  • AI competence. The first pillar of future-proofing focuses on fostering AI competence. In an era where technology, particularly AI, is becoming increasingly pervasive, we recognize the imperative for students to not only adapt to this landscape but to thrive within it. A curriculum should impart the skills and knowledge necessary for students to effectively leverage AI, ensuring they are not merely consumers but adept creators and collaborators in a technology-driven world.
  • Uniquely human attributes. The second facet of this approach involves preparing students with uniquely human attributes that AI cannot easily replicate. We emphasize qualities such as emotional intelligence (EQ), empathy, human touch, warmth, judgment, moral values, friendship, collaboration, and creativity. These attributes are not just desirable in the future; they are indispensable.

3. The role of educators

A synergy between AI and human educators

The collaboration between AI and human educators forms the core of the new educational landscape. This symbiotic relationship aims to merge the precision and efficiency of AI with the empathetic and creative guidance provided by human mentors. Here’s how this partnership is poised to revolutionize education:

  • Liberating human educators. AI will liberate human educators from routine tasks, allowing AI to take on responsibilities such as personalized tutoring and repetitive assessments. This liberation enables educators to dedicate their time and expertise to developing higher-order skills that are quintessentially human.
  • The irreplaceable role of teachers. Teachers, in our view, play an irreplaceable role in education. The impact of a good teacher is profound, influencing a student’s affinity or aversion to a subject. The human touch is crucial in providing encouragement during setbacks and fostering perseverance—a dimension where machines fall short. We recognize that good teachers are not interchangeable with machines. However, we emphasize that a teacher who rigidly adheres to robotic behavior should indeed be supplanted by technology.

4. The role of AI

AI in education: A unique paradigm

The integration of AI in preschool education unfolds a unique paradigm where young children can seamlessly transition between the roles of the “tutee” and the “tutor,” fostering a multifaceted and enriching educational experience. This concept manifests in three distinct applications of AI in education: as a tutor, as a tutee, and as a tool.

  1. AI as a tutor. An AI language and mathematics program serves as prime examples of AI functioning as a tutor. It assumes the role of a personalized guide, assisting each child individually. By tailoring lessons to the specific needs of the learner, the AI acts as a supportive mentor, ensuring that each child receives targeted and effective guidance in their learning journey.
  2. AI as a tool. The collaboration between our young learners and ChatGPT and DALL-E to create stories exemplifies the utilization of AI as a tool. Here, AI becomes a creative instrument in the hands of preschoolers, facilitating the imaginative process. This engagement empowers children to explore their creativity, fostering a sense of ownership over the technology and integrating it seamlessly into their expressive endeavors.
  3. AI as a tutee (student). A particularly intriguing facet of our approach involves children using code to control a robot, where AI transforms into a tutee, assuming the role of the student. In this scenario, the child becomes the instructor, guiding the robot through coding instructions. This interactive process not only introduces children to the principles of computational thinking but also encourages logical reasoning and systematic problem-solving. Coding becomes a dynamic platform for young learners, offering a rare opportunity for them to direct and command—a source of great excitement for children.

In essence, this multifaceted interaction with AI establishes a symbiotic relationship where the roles of teacher and student are fluid. By seamlessly transitioning between these roles, preschool children not only benefit from tailored guidance but also actively engage with AI as a creative collaborator and a student, cultivating a well-rounded skill set that extends beyond conventional learning approaches.

In summary, the future of education hinges on the collaborative efforts of human educators and AI. Together, they create an educational ecosystem that leverages the strengths of each, ensuring that students are not only equipped with knowledge but also possess the essential skills and attributes needed to thrive in a future where human qualities play a pivotal role.

Dr. Richard Yen, Harvard University PhD, founder of Ednovation, which develops edtech and operates Cambridge, ChildFirst, and Shaws Preschools in Singapore, South East Asia, and China.

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