chat gpt ai and homeschooling

ChatGPT Writes a History Essay

ChatGPT, Homeschooling, and Essay Writing

It has been a little over a year since ChatGPT was unveiled in the autumn of 2022, a technological leap that opened up new frontiers in AI technology. Recently a parent asked me an interesting question: “Mr. Campbell, how would you grade history essays written by ChatGPT, in terms of content and structure?” I found this idea intriguing and decided to ask ChatGPT to write some history essays for me to grade…

Essay 1: Jefferson vs. Hamilton (8th Grade)

For the first assignment, I gave it the prompt, “Write a 350-word essay explaining the difference between the economic vision of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Please write at an 8th grade level.” Here is what ChatGPT gave me:

During the early years of the United States, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, two prominent figures in American history, held opposing economic visions that significantly shaped the nation’s direction. Their differing ideas were rooted in contrasting beliefs about the role of government and the structure of the economy.

Alexander Hamilton, as the first Secretary of the Treasury, championed a powerful central government. He believed that a strong federal authority was essential for the stability and prosperity of the fledgling nation. Hamilton envisioned a diverse and robust economy, aiming for financial independence and global competitiveness. To achieve this, he proposed the creation of a national bank, arguing that it would provide stability to the currency and stimulate economic growth by encouraging investment and trade. Additionally, Hamilton advocated for tariffs on imported goods to protect American industries from foreign competition, aiming to boost domestic production and support the growth of American businesses.

In contrast, Thomas Jefferson, serving as the Secretary of State and later becoming the third President, held a decentralized and agrarian vision for the United States. He valued the strength of independent farmers and agrarian communities and feared that too much federal control would jeopardize individual liberties. Jefferson opposed Hamilton’s national bank, arguing that it favored the wealthy elite over small farmers. He also opposed tariffs, as he believed they would disproportionately impact farmers by increasing the prices of essential goods. Jefferson envisioned a limited role for the federal government, favoring state power and emphasizing a society of small, independent farmers as the foundation of American strength.

In summary, Hamilton and Jefferson’s economic visions differed fundamentally. Hamilton advocated for a powerful central government, the establishment of a national bank, and the use of tariffs to foster economic growth. Jefferson, in contrast, favored a decentralized government, opposed the national bank and tariffs, and promoted an agrarian society of independent farmers. These conflicting perspectives sparked ongoing debates about the government’s role in the economy, leaving a lasting impact on the economic policies of the early United States.

This essay was decent, but not flawless. First off, I don’t believe it wrote this at an 8th-grade level. It is a little elevated. In my experience, 8th graders don’t say things like “conflicting perspectives sparked ongoing debates,” or “envisioned a diverse and robust economy.” So I’d say the vocabulary did not correspond to how 8th graders write.

From a historical perspective, the ChatGPT-generated essay omitted what is arguably the most essential aspect of Alexander Hamilton’s financial plan. That is, funding the U.S. national debt by assuming the debts of the states and paying them off through the sale of lands on the frontier. This was a pivotal aspect of Hamilton’s economic plans for the country.

I give ChatGPT’s first essay on Hamilton and Jefferson an 86%.

Essay 2: Strengths of the Neo-Assyrian Empire

The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the Assyrians of the Old Testament, who famously destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. and carried the Ten Tribes of the North into captivity. From the 11th to 7th centuries B.C. they were the most formidable empire in the Near East. For essay two, I gave ChatGPT the following prompt: “Please compose an approximately 350-word essay explaining the success of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Write it at a 6th-grade level of comprehension.” Here are the results:

Long ago, in the land of Mesopotamia, the Neo-Assyrian Empire rose to power and became one of the most successful empires in ancient times. The key to their success can be understood through their strong military, advanced technology, and smart leadership.

The Neo-Assyrians were famous for their powerful army. They had skilled warriors and smart leaders who used advanced military strategies. The soldiers were well-trained and had strong weapons like iron swords and bows. With their mighty army, the Neo-Assyrians conquered many lands and became a force to be reckoned with.

Another reason for their success was their use of advanced technology. The Neo-Assyrians were very clever and used new tools and inventions. One of their amazing inventions was the battering ram, a giant weapon used to break down city walls during battles. They also had smart engineers who built strong fortresses and protective walls around their cities. This advanced technology helped them defend their empire and conquer new territories.

Smart leadership played a crucial role in the success of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The kings of Assyria were strong leaders who knew how to govern and make wise decisions. They built a well-organized government that helped the empire run smoothly. The kings also encouraged learning and built grand palaces and libraries. This focus on knowledge and leadership made the Neo-Assyrians a powerful and influential empire in the ancient world.

Trade was another factor that contributed to their success. The Neo-Assyrians were situated in a prime location, allowing them to trade with many neighboring regions. This helped them gain valuable resources and wealth, making their empire strong and prosperous.

In conclusion, the Neo-Assyrian Empire became a great success due to its powerful military, advanced technology, smart leadership, and strategic location for trade. Their story teaches us about the importance of strength, knowledge, and leadership in building a successful empire in ancient times.

In terms of structure and content, this essay is pretty good. It also does better than the first essay writing at the appropriate grade level. The only critique is it is frustratingly vague in details. It doesn’t mention any specific Assyrian rulers, cities, battles, or anything of substance. Granted, I did not ask it to give specific examples, so I’m not sure how much I can mark it down because of this, but I still found its vague answers annoying.

Overall, quite good. I grade this essay on the Neo-Assyrians at 94%.

Essay 3: Henry VIII’s Money Problems

For my final essay, I decided to ask ChatGPT about King Henry VIII’s attempts to raise money. The prompt was, “Write a 250-word essay summarizing King Henry VIII’s various attempts to find revenue sources. Write at a 12th grade level.” Since I expected this language to be more elevated, I allowed it to be briefer to see how judicious it would be in its economy of words. Here is the result:

King Henry VIII, the formidable Tudor monarch of 16th-century England, faced substantial financial challenges during his reign and employed a series of innovative measures to secure revenue for his ambitious undertakings. His strategies included taxation, the dissolution of monasteries, and diplomatic maneuvering.

Henry’s need for funds to support his military endeavors, lavish lifestyle, and grand construction projects led to increased taxation. He imposed various taxes on the people, such as the subsidy and the benevolence, although these measures were often met with resistance and public discontent.

A significant and controversial move in Henry’s quest for revenue was the dissolution of the monasteries. In 1536, he initiated the Dissolution of the Monasteries Act, targeting religious institutions and confiscating their wealth. The proceeds from the sale of monastery lands and possessions contributed significantly to the royal treasury, providing Henry with a substantial infusion of funds.

Additionally, King Henry VIII engaged in diplomatic efforts to secure financial gains. Marriage alliances, such as his unions with Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves, were strategic moves aimed at strengthening political ties and bringing economic advantages to the crown. However, these marriages did not always result in the expected financial benefits and, in some cases, led to diplomatic challenges.

Despite his multifaceted approach, Henry’s financial management was not without consequences. The burdens imposed by heavy taxation and the dissolution of monasteries fueled social unrest and discontent among his subjects. Furthermore, the king’s reliance on diplomatic marriages had mixed outcomes, with some alliances falling short of delivering the anticipated financial advantages.

In summary, King Henry VIII’s quest for revenue involved a combination of taxation, the dissolution of monasteries, and diplomatic maneuvering. While these measures provided the necessary funds for his ambitious undertakings, they were not without controversy and had lasting implications on the economic, social, and religious landscape of Tudor England.

This was a fantastic essay in terms of content. I liked that it discussed the negative consequences of Henry’s revenue schemes, even though I did not specifically ask for it. It gave specifics, too, discussing the Dissolution and his marriage alliances. I do think the language was too elevated for what a 12th-grader would write. This reads more like a college essay than something a high school senior would compose. However, that’s not a problem with the content or structure, so I’m not going to mark it down.

I’d give this essay a 97%.


I have to say, ChatGPT lays out an essay very well. It gives a solid introduction, states what it is going to address, and then does so methodically, wrapping everything up with a tidy conclusion. Students who struggle with essay structure would do well to learn from this model.

In terms of content, it was generally on the mark. I did not catch any erroneous information. If anything, its main flaw was in not saying enough—being too vague or omitting vital information. Then again, in no prompt did I specifically tell ChatGPT to give concrete examples, so perhaps I am to blame.

The biggest problem was neither with structure nor content, but with ChatGPT’s struggle to understand what I mean when I ask it to write at a certain level. I noticed that when I wrote “Write at an Xth grade level,” it did not do as well as when I said, “Write at an Xth grade level of comprehension.” Essay 2 used the latter prompt, whereas 1 and 3 used the former, and Essay 2 was the best in this regard.

I suspect that when one simply says, “Write at an Xth-grade level,” it utilizes vocabulary words that the given age group is supposed to understand. But of course, simply knowing the definition of a word is different from having a certain degree of comprehension, which is more than just vocabulary knowledge, including the ability to derive meaning from texts and subtexts. Since prompt 2 was the only one that mentioned comprehension specifically, I assume this is the reason why it was superior.

Overall, though, it seems that when I tell ChatGPT to write at an Xth grade “level” or for Xth grade “comprehension,” it is writing something it thinks children of that age will understand, not writing as if it were a child of that grade, which is what I really wanted it to do. I decided to give it one more attempt, asking it to rewrite the Jefferson-Hamilton essay “in the voice and style of a 12-year-old.” The results were hilarious, as now it thought I wanted something employing 12-year-old colloquialisms and slang:


In conclusion, ChatGPT wrote fairly solid essays along the parameters I requested, at suitable levels of comprehension. They weren’t perfect, but I probably could have gotten better results if I had been more precise with my prompts. It struggles to understand how to actually speak as a child of a certain grade, or even what that means. Not even the best of the above examples would fool me as something written by an actual child of the given grade; if anything, ChatGPT is too formulaic to pass as human writing—at least for now. A student would have to substantially rework these essays before I would believe they were human-composed, and the amount of labor involved would probably not save much time than simply writing the essay from scratch anyway.

In the upcoming weeks, we’ll address other topics about AI, including how parents can tell if a child is cheating using AI and, conversely, how to use AI as a helpful tool. To view all of Homeschool Connections’ blog articles on this topic, click here: Homeschooling, AI, and ChatGPT.

What do you think about ChatGPT and AI? I invite you to join me and other Catholic homeschooling parents by joining our Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group today.

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