Artificial Intelligence (AI) has entered nearly every aspect of our lives. You can buy a car that parks itself, a fridge that tells you when you need more milk, and a robot that will dust your house. AI technologies like predictive text and smart grammar or style interventions can help polish your writing. So you might also be daydreaming about how nice it would be if you could buy a robot that would write your essays entirely.
But be careful what you wish for! Asking for a machine to write your essays would be like hiring another human being to replace you altogether. For while AI and various technologies can take over many mundane tasks and thus make our lives easier and more efficient, the ability to analyse information, consolidate it, come to conclusions, and convince others of those conclusions is a profoundly human skill. We call it thinking – and thinking is more important than ever in today’s tech world.
In fact, as machines steadily take over the lower-level jobs that humans used to perform, it becomes increasingly important that you learn how to think clearly. And the best way of doing that is learning how to write persuasive essays.
Here are some key thinking skills that you can learn and practise through writing persuasive essays:
Good writers are critical thinkers
The writing process usually involves research – reading widely about various topics and across different disciplines. This expands your perspectives and adds to your body of knowledge and understanding of the world. What is more, doing this research improves your ability to find relevant, focused, and credible information. AI like Google or other search engines can lead you to a lot of material. But only you can judge what articles or ideas are relevant and reliable and valuable. Absorbing and evaluating information from different materials will nurture your critical mind.
Good writers are clear thinkers
The writing process creates a clear thinker. A key part of your task in writing a persuasive essay is to organise the information you’ve gathered, connect it to the theme of your paper, and structure it in a logical sequence to allow readers to follow along and see a new perspective on the subject. This is no different to coming up with business ideas – identifying a problem, creating a solution, and pitching it. And that surely isn’t something you would ever expect AI to do for you!
Good writers have emotional intelligence
The writing process can improve your levels of emotional intelligence because effective essays require you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. In other words, the best essay writers are skilled at recognizing perspectives that are completely opposed to their personal views on the topic. By seeking to understand the arguments and positions of those who would disagree with what you are saying, you’ll unknowingly be growing and stretching your empathy muscle. This is a real-life skill that is invaluable in maintaining a happy and productive environment – particularly as AI becomes more pervasive in our lives.
Good writers have good communication skills
The best writers have their readers in mind throughout their essays. If you are trying to persuade someone of a particular position or idea, you need to be able to anticipate the questions they might have in their minds as they read your words. The writing process always gets you to think about conveying a message in a way that your reader will understand it. And it’s that kind of subtle and flexible and complex response that is lacking in AI. Communication 101.
So if you’re wondering why schools and universities still have you write essays, it’s not just to improve your writing skills but also to improve all the other skills that make a good writer and a good person. We aren’t robots, after all!
Useful samples and examples: