Four Themes Illuminate Important Conversations at SXSW EDU 2022

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Every day, we are reminded of the critical role that education plays in society. The speakers, ideas, and dynamic content that will be featured at SXSW EDU illustrate the powerful societal issues that are on the minds of our community. As we explored the larger drivers that move the education community to action, we uncovered several themes that unify much of our collective thinking, direction, and work. They are — power, resilience, boundless curiosity, and humanity.

As a community-driven convening, we welcome the perspectives of our advisory board members to help frame these themes with insight from their experience across the learning ecosystem. Whether their focus is higher education transformation or creative discovery within schools, these leaders share their vision for the impact learning has on our lives. And for many of us, their perspective is a reflection of what we are all facing.

Whether you are seeking inspiration, conversation, or explanation — these themes underscore the foundation of our work in education. From practice to pedagogy, we are all in this together. SXSW EDU remains a place to reinforce the core principles of teaching and learning as well as an opportunity to tackle complex issues and build reimagined paths forward for education.


Whether it is questioning large-scale subjects like systemic impacts or personal matters like control over your career, we’ve seen more individuals and groups re-evaluating what and who is prioritized in the decisions made each day.

How does this affect global matters, business investments, and the future of work and the workforce? Explore how these shifting dynamics present the opportunity for educators to reimagine their roles.

“As educators, we have the power to equip all students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to be fully informed and engaged, ready to tackle current and future issues and create a thriving, inclusive and equitable democracy.”

-Felice Nudelman
Associate VP Academic Innovation and Transformation,
American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Accessibility & Inclusion, Business & Investment, Global Impact

creativity, entrepreneurs & startups, leadership, special education, standards & assessment, storytelling, student voice


Society’s health and wellbeing have been put to the test. How do we make it through an ongoing global pandemic? Climate crisis? Social issues? And, how do we acknowledge the impact of these current affairs in education?

Perhaps it begins with acknowledging that it’s okay to not always be okay. From the role of social emotional learning in improving student outcomes to the state of promoting wellness in addressing teacher burnout, the pillars that make for a resilient community in the face of challenges are fundamental.

“When I think of the word Resilience, I think of every young person that wakes up in the morning, cold, hungry, and tired. I think of that person looking at the tv, phone, or reading a news article and all they see are negative images and stories of people that look like them. Being told that they won’t amount to anything, that they’re not worthy, that they will end up in prison. I think about them going to school and hearing the same things that they read on the news, and their teacher/principal/staff demeaning them. Then I think about that young person returning to school the next day despite everything…and succeeding. That’s resilience. We should all aim to be that resilient.”

-James Miles
MENTOR Washington

Policy & Civic Engagement, SEL & Wellness

career, covid-19, health, implementation, instruction, mental health, online education, teachers, virtual learning, wellness

Boundless Curiosity

As educators, students, innovators, and humans, we are naturally curious about the possibilities of the world around us and the people we share it with. By expanding the boundaries in the way we connect and learn in response to the pandemic, the learning community is creating the tools that will help us go forward. From telling the untold stories to reimagining the ones we thought we knew, how we are shaping and what we are reflecting in pedagogy and emerging technology has the power to enhance access to these concepts.

“Curiosity demands never being finished or fully satisfied — any project completed, course passed, or destination reached still leaves room to learn more in the future.”

-Lindsey Own
Makerspace Coordinator,
The Evergreen School

Emerging Tech, Practice & Pedagogy, Work Reimagined

artificial intelligence, experiential learning, expo, media literacy, partnerships, personalized learning, project based learning, stem & steam


At its core, education is about humanity. It is about teaching the necessary skills that serve as the foundation for society and sharing wisdom from lived experience. It is about helping the next generations build the bridges that will take them into their future. However, some forces often distract us from that core tenet, especially in an increasingly politicized climate. Breaking down the divisive topics shadowing our society creates an opportunity for shared vulnerability and understanding.

“We talk about skills, character and content in schools, but ultimately we know that education — real education — is relational. The connections we make with students are the foundation for everything that follows. This is why education systems will never be fully automated. Students persist, light up, grow curious, come-from-behind when they know that someone else —their teacher, a parent, an advisor or principal — has their back and cares for them. Technology accelerates and diversifies learning, but it can’t replace this impact that one human being has on another.”

-Peter Nilsson
Head of School,
King’s Academy

Arts & Storytelling, Community Initiatives, Equity & Justice

design thinking, diversity & inclusion, parent engagement, school design, social justice

See You at SXSW EDU 2022

Mark your calendars for March 7-10, 2022! Register to attend in-person or online today.

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By Greg Rosenbaum