The Project Chiron Manifesto:
Reinventing the Paradigms of Education


Why does Project Chiron exist?

Because how we learn informs everything we do. And the joy of uncovering, exploring, and understanding new ideas should be at the forefront of all our learning.

As Leibniz grappled with the concept of the infinitesimal, so too should students today be guided to tease out their own ‘infinitely small changes’ in their journey to understanding calculus. Just as Newton pieced together the fundamental laws of classical mechanics, students should be led through experiments that inspire them to arrive at the same mathematical conclusions. Instead of viewing algebra as a pre-constructed puzzle, students should engage with tangible problems, progressively crafting the abstraction* of algebra as a tool for navigating complexity, transforming the daunting 𝑥 into a symbol of their own mastery and abstract reasoning. We should all experience a little of what the great pioneers felt, in the pursuit of learning.

It is Project Chiron’s overarching goal to see such deep, exploratory learning become the standard in education, not the exception.

Passive Learning: A relic of the past

This naturally prompts the question: why don’t our schools and universities place a greater emphasis on student-focussed learning? Notwithstanding the very real time and teacher constraints, the real answer likely lies in our history.

The Industrial Revolution was a turning point in educational paradigms, steering away from personalised aristocratic tutoring to embrace standardised, passive learning - a model characterised by unidirectional teaching and rote memorisation. This shift, born out of necessity to efficiently educate the masses during a time of unprecedented industrial growth and societal change, consequently established a 'one-size-fits-all' model that continues to dominate our modern educational institutions.

It is thus no surprise that without the chance to explore and discover for themselves, many students see subjects like maths and physics as daunting and obscure.

Active Teaching: A brighter future?

There is, however, a better way to teach. It all falls under the wide branch of active teaching.

Teachers will bring their own flair to this, but these are some of the guiding principles that I believe are fundamental to high quality active teaching:

Storytelling - Every new idea should begin with a question or puzzle. This spark should propel students to search for a path forwards, and with some guidance where necessary, lead them to uncover a framework or concept to tackle the problem they now understand (and actually want to solve!). When the a-ha moment arrives, it is now built upon a much stronger foundation.
Bi-directional Socratic Questioning - A great teacher will continually scrutinise the understanding of a student by asking questions that inspire ever greater understanding and challenge any misconceptions. But just as importantly, students benefit enormously by adopting a similar attitude in questioning themselves, their peers and their teachers.
Kinaesthetic Learning - Active, hands-on learning can take the shape of students experimenting with carts, pulleys and weights to visually and tangibly arrive at Newton’s 2nd Law, or splitting into pairs to work on whiteboards round the classroom to attempt to find their own way to measure the gradient of an algebraic curve for the first time.
Collaboration - In practising the above principles, collaborative learning should be at their core. Emotionally and academically, students tend to flourish when paired with similarly capable peers, as they venture into the domain of new ideas.

But to return to the underlying reason why this all matters - I hope to instil in students a lifelong curiosity for their future lives, and moreover, equip them with the confidence to challenge the status quo (and the ability to recognise when they ought to!).

There’s only one issue - we do not have enough teachers.

Artificial Intelligence: Teaching at scale

To strive to achieve the best teaching for every student, we need more teachers - by an entire order of magnitude.

The principles outlined above are demanding in the best of circumstances. To consistently provide teaching of this calibre, an always-present, never-tiring, constantly-attentive and highly-intelligent teacher is required - one that would surpass human limits. This is where AI comes into play.

But can AI really reach parity in teaching quality to an experienced teacher? No, not today. But the gap will continue to narrow. I’ve already experienced GPT’s teaching prowess first hand. It has been my expert co-developer and teacher, supporting me in building an entire web application in 3 months (a task I believe may have taken up to a year without). And today, I’m witnessing that very application provide similar teaching in a school level maths context. In the not-so-distant future, it wouldn’t be a stretch to expect free-form writing, natural dialogue and emotional articulation to all be understood (and reciprocated) by these teachers.

As we envision this potential new era of AI-driven teaching, it's worth recalling the advent of the internet, which was celebrated as the democratisation of information. Many anticipated this would herald a new era of educational excellence, yet it lacked a crucial element - intelligence. This absence restricted learning to a largely passive form. With the emergence of such proficient AI, we are finally witnessing the democratisation of intelligence, a complementary and essential component, set to enable active teaching at a scale previously unimaginable.

What does this mean for teachers?

Despite fears of displacement, I believe the advent of the AI era should not be a threat, but rather a promise to enrich every teacher’s role. With tasks such as marking, lesson plans, foundational teaching and, of course, reports being freed up, teachers are liberated to focus on what I believe to be the most fundamental human capacity they can impart - mentorship.

Think of the teacher that made the biggest difference to your education (and possibly your life too). Who comes to mind, and why? I imagine the reason wouldn’t be anything to do with how they taught you three different ways to solve a quadratic equation or the correct usage of semicolons and apostrophes. The answer tends to relate to how the teacher inspired you in some capacity. This is what teachers truly do best.

For those harbouring apprehensions or unease towards a future where AI assumes a pivotal position in education, I want to underscore that the most exhilarating potential is not merely in emulating or substituting the outstanding work teachers already accomplish. Instead, the real promise resides in the countless teaching opportunities that are currently beyond our reach, including those we haven't even imagined yet. This heralds an immense opportunity to enhance every child's education. And to realise this vision, we're going to need exceptional teachers on board to make sure we get it right.

So what does Project Chiron hope to achieve?

The project hopes to instigate a shift in the perception of AI in education, from a threat to an opportunity. This technology offers too much potential to be wasted by fretting over how it upturns the status quo. Instead, for all these forseen problems, we should now be discussing how AI can solve them and open up new teaching and assessment opportunities. Project Chiron serves to bring together the very best teachers and most talented developers, in order to achieve these goals.

Just as the unprecedented societal change of the industrial revolution cemented certain educational paradigms, now the intelligence revolution offers a new chance to reinvent these paradigms. At its core, Project Chiron will work to see that the implementation of AI in education is done right, following the best teaching practices of today, and striving to discover the best practices of tomorrow.