Four Themes Set the Stage for SXSW EDU 2024
As the new school year gets underway, we as a team at SXSW EDU have been reflecting on the year ahead. We’re in the midst of the community-fueled ideation arising from PanelPicker. While the process will carry on until we announce the first round of sessions in October, we are setting intentions now with the 2024 themes that reflect the resiliency of this learning community.
Grounding our work in both our personal and collective humanity, this year’s themes represent what makes the practice of learning foundational. Whether your day-to-day focus is in the classroom or systems change, advocacy or product development, there is a courage required to push for creative and lasting impact that preserves equitable paths forward for all learners. What follows is an arc of four themes for 2024, with reflections from members of the Advisory Board on how each theme speaks to them.
This year promises to be enlightening as the education community advances amidst the rapid evolution of generative AI, global connectedness underpinned by the changing climate, a new reality in the policy landscape with a national election underway, and, most importantly, a continued focus on learning recovery from the last few years.
Explore the 2024 themes:
Striking a balance can be challenging, but it is essential. We must pause every so often and reevaluate what is happening at the core of our being as individuals and as a collective. If things are off kilter internally, how can we maintain the external? With residual effects from the pandemic, ongoing social strifes, and a constantly evolving tech landscape, now more than ever, taking the time to check in is a priority.
Join us in exploring how we can proactively enable pathways to promote respite and renewal, ultimately positioning ourselves for revitalization.
“Hearing the word CENTERED resonates deeply and imbues me with the sense of possibility, hope and a framework for life-giving changes in our education system. And, it begins with each of us centering our humanness and exploring it inside of us. What are my questions, doubts, aspirations, fears, joys, yearnings? What is nourishing me, depleting me? Where am I leaning in, leaning out and why? What are my beliefs, stories and what lens I am looking through? Whose shoulders do I stand on? Where and how can I grow? Inside inquiries invite us to honor our humanness, prioritize our well-being, and by extension create structural changes in education.” -Dagmar Kauffman Founder & Executive Director, On Balance Parenting
As we center, the next step is to sustain. Let’s build a system that is rooted in community, which is at the heart of SXSW EDU and education more broadly. While we test and incorporate emerging tools and techniques, construct new working environments, and imagine the future of learning, we must ask: Can this support growth for all those impacted by the education system?
When we start from intentional decision-making and selective approaches forward, we create durable building blocks for the future. We examine the ever-present need for tactics, resources, and approaches that are lasting.
“So, for me, sustainability applies to how schools can provide healthy environments for students to grow and learn and an environment that bolsters educators. This may be controversial, but what if schools were more teacher-centered? Do not get me wrong; I am not saying that students should not be central to the mission of K-12 Schools. I am saying that teachers should also occupy a space at the center of K-12 education. What if we strove to provide teachers with the same wrap-around services we strive to give students who need them? What if teachers got counseling services in schools like students should be getting access to guidance counselors? What if sustainability in education meant providing the services needed to sustain teachers?” -Langston Clark Associate Professor, The University of Texas at San Antonio
If we establish a healthy and strong foundation, we ultimately have firm footing, the freedom to soar, and the energy to wonder. Learning isn’t only an action. It can also be a mindset. Shaping the future of education requires a willingness to remain open to possibilities, the unknown, unrealized lessons, and the sometimes unlikely sources they may come from.
Journey further into the “what if” territory with us and play in the potential of ideas and innovations.
“Some people believe our current education system is broken. Others believe it is doing what it was designed to do: offer robust opportunities to a small number of privileged students, while placing the majority of students on tracks that lead to limited options. What each of these groups of critics can agree is that the current system is not serving all students equitably—and that needs to change. Timid tweaks won't get us there. Bold shifts are needed. Making these happen is hard work but it doesn't have to be boring, in fact it will demand that we bring curious minds and courageous hearts. It will require us to be adventurous. Let's have fun upsetting the set-up!” -sam seidel Director of K12 Strategy & Research, Stanford d.school
What is the sum of all of these themes? A space for grounded, steady, and brave concepts that allow our educators, students, system, and future generations to thrive. We are here to bring opportunities to light, and it is an equitable and equipped community that makes this pursuit possible.
Partner with us to move the needle on what’s possible and define what success means for our present and future.
“Flourishing brings to mind opportunities that allow our students and educators to truly thrive both in their communities and across learning environments. In a flourishing education ecosystem joy, creativity, and authenticity are cultivated in intentional and meaningful ways. Spaces to refine, remix, and reflect upon multiple approaches to learning are considered essential.” -Lakita Edwards Arts Education Program Specialist, National Endowment for the Arts
Join this dynamic community of learning leaders at the 2024 SXSW EDU Conference & Festival as we dive deeper into these themes and all the great programming to come.
Interested in retrospection?
We’ve been doing this work in concert with our community for a while, and sometimes a look back helps contextualize the go forward. For those curious…