NECC, Day 5, Closing Keynote


This is the first year I’ve made it to more than one keynote and they’ve been great. Here are my notes from the closing keynote, by Dr. Tim Tyson from Mabry Middle School in Marietta, GA. (NOTE: didn’t get to post this until Friday morning, after a post-conference summit and a trip from hell to get home).

School 1.0: maniacal emphasis on rules, rituals, and routines, and right answers.
School 2.0: engaged, self-directed, project driven, independent problem solvers, empowered, learning community 

Meaningfulness, significance, connectedness, contribution (which is moving beyond the first three). Schools can now have access to immediate global distribution (first time ever). Why stick something on a bulletin board if you can show it to the world? & iTunes (serves 1.5 million files per month on avg) People can subscribe to student work through iTunes. 

Principal promises to put stuff on the web if it’s exemplary. So he asks students: “what do you have to say that is so important everybody in the world should hear and see it?” Gets emails from all over the world. Foreigners have visited the school because of this. Kids now have an international voice that matters. This is authentic assessment. “I made an A but I want to keep working on my project. I want to keep learning.” 

The concept of childhood is relatively new. So, when does meaningfulness start? Does it begin when I graduate high school or college? First job, when I start a family? For me (Tyson), it’s right now, today. Have meaningful activities for our students today.

Examples of movies: 

  • e.g. human embryonic stem cell research; field trip to Emory University research lab. Director talked about the pros and cons of doing stem cell research
  • commercialization of pure drinking water
  • child slave labor in Ivory Coast
  • raise money for bednets to protect Africans from malaria
  • captivity of elephants
  • poverty in China
  •  immigration in the US 



Showed a sampling of movies Then two students came on stage to share their experiences making the movies. First student talked about making the movie and having a larger audience.  Second student talked about: “we learn by experience” and the creation of the organ transplant movie. Talked about meeting with transplant surgeons, and how making a movie made her learn more.  

It’s not about technology and connectivity. It’s about collapsing the distance between children and meaningful contribution.  It’s about making a contribution to their day-to-day lives. School needs to prepare kids for more than next year. They want to be prepared to make a contribution today. It’s giving it out instead of taking away.  

Meaningfulness is the product of connectedness, contribution, and sharing.  Children have an untapped capacity to make the world a better place today.  

Movie “Celebrate Achievement” as closing.  

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