Dr. Tim Tyson-Keynote at Tech Camp-AZ K 12 Center-July 6, 2008 From Personal Knowledge to Global Contribution

July 20, 2008

Dr. Tim Tyson is the keynote speaker tonight.  This is the first night at Tech Camp here at the Loews Vantana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona.  I’ll be live blogging this session, but will try to add my thoughts as well.  (His message is a message that is worth screaming out across the sky.  The bottom line is at the end of the post, but if you can gain context by reading the whole post as written, it will help you a little bit to see where he is coming from.  In my district as I begin the next year in planning and professional development, never before have I had a clearer focus or message.  As the Technology and Instruction Specialist, in a small district, with a focused, clear message, I believe we can move our excellent students even further.  Our Technology Cadre mission statement has been all about student achievement, and how to use the tools that we have to further the practices of our teachers.  I think we may have missed the boat–we need to move to the learning–the children, students, and move towards the relevancy of their learning lives, and how do we go about doing that.  Look at enhancing their learning environments in what ever ways will create opportunities for their voices to be heard.  I will write about this later, so here is the Keynote with Dr. Tyson.)

Title of this is :  From Personal Knowledge to Global Contribution:  He is broadcasting this live over UStream.  Changing our concept of school.  He is warning us that his perspective is very different.  He is wanting to really challenge our thinking and about school.  Acknowledging AZ K 12 Center for honoring the work teachers do.  

He is talking about the Phantom Tollbooth–quoting from the book.  His point is that when we get older our perspective tends to get stuck.  He thinks that perspective is everything.  He wants us to step outside of our professional practice from different angles.  Analyze it differently.  Reconsider what we do with children.

Ask:  Is it our most powerful work?  If not, what is keeping it from our most powerful work?  How can we make it our most powerful work? 

He is talking about his family-his grandfather and grandmother.  Taking us on a tour through Google Earth, of his home town.  That many businesses are closed.  That his home town has the highest crime rate, highest rate of men incarcerated.  What was once a wonderful place is now the worst place. How did this happen?  

Outsourceing-jobs began getting outsourcing.  Quoating Daniel Pink’s book, about the left brain people (NCLB) is just as important, but it is no longer sufficient.  

The nature of work has changed. So much more outsourcing.  Radiologists.  33% of our workforce work as indipendant contractors.  How does this impact schools?  24% of the work force are the working poor.  They acrue debt, not savings.

If we are going to survive, we have to be creative.  Talking about the creative guy who provided computers for a school, and they all work together to help cancer research, by using the computes at night, linking the “brain Power” of the computers he supplied to the school to further scientific research.  So by day the computers were used by the students.  By night they were a huge force and powerful brain for the scientists.  Thinking outside the box.

So really Dr. Tyson is trying to make the point about the creative brains that are in our classrooms.  We have got to tap into the students and their creativity.  We have got to really enhance and honor our students and respect the fact that they are creative and help to create this type of child. Dr. Tyson says there is a whole lot more to life than to teach them the same type of things.  Let’s focus on rules, rituals, routines–but let’s get creative.

He is talking now about his grandmothre, Ruth Tyson.  And also John Dewey. Ruth was a leading educator in Pritchard Alabama,(His home town) and very traditional.  But John Dewey was living in the same time and he had progressive ideas about eduation.  This was years ago.

Here is the big question:

Who owns the learning? 

Usually the teachers are doing too much work.

So much, everything has been transformed.  Everything but school.  School has not changed at all.  He is not trying to be gloomy and doomy.  But he is thinking of opportunity, and new beginning.  New opportunity.  Taking things from 500 years ago–Gutenbergs printing press.  This was revolutionary–it has determinaned the destination of civilization.   Now our digital tools are not going to have so much impact.

School should:

  • authentically engaged learners
  • create and foster self-directed learning
  • provide project-driven instruction
  • create independant problem-solvers…
  • …who are empowered by technology innovation
  • all within a collaborative learning community
  • be relevant
  • insist on contribution
It’s about the thinking….Kids today are in love with gadgets, but they typically are using them at low levels. We all have to be learners.  We have to take a look at the curriculum and be sure that it is relevant.
Promises to keep:  “Boys and girls if you do exemplary work, quality best of the best work, I might place your project into global distribution.(on the web) ”  Check MabryOnline.org & iTunes for exemplary projects and work.
What would you do differently if your students really wanted to learn?
To create, connect, learn, make a real contribution, wanted their school to help them do this in ways that were exciting.  

Kids want relevant school.  They love learning, they just hate our tool set.  People began coming to the Mabry site, and wanting to come to their school wanting to know how they did those projects. 

Talking about authentic assessment.  He hates grading.  Grading kills learning.  He is talking about this point, illustrating that the learning stops at the test.  But really learning is never done.  How are we going to authentically assess student work?  

The concept of childhood is new, according to Dr. Tyson.  The children years ago had to work hard at early ages on the farm and elsewhere.  Their contribution was essential.  When does meaningfulness start?  How old do we have to be for our lives to assume a level of significance that matters?  job, marriage, what do we have to do?  when do we make a difference?  This is a key question.   The answer is now.  today.  You can make a contribution that people respect and admire.  The choice is theirs.

If you create something that is exemplary,  What do  you have to say that is so important that everyone on earth needs to hear it?  Your work will be published.  This is the challenge to push to the children.  The students rise to the challenge.  What’s on their minds?  

He went on to talk about some students who created some movies.  a student said:  making a movie is like learning on steroids.  

He showed movies and movies and how they are impactful.

It’s about you the educator–collapsing the distance between children and meaningful education.  Make a difference now today.  We chop up the curriculum into easy to test pieces.  We rob them of the whole picture.    We have a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Use a new toolset to change our profession.  Let’s not waste it.



  1. This is such a great summary Nancy. I love the bit about the teacher doing too much of the work. When I ask the students to do the teaching they sometimes say “but that’s your job!” and I tell them about all I’ve learnt since I started teaching. I love Tim Tyson’s perspectives (and yours too)

  2. Thanks so much, Jo! I know, I love the question: “Who owns the learning?” So true, huh? Thanks for reading, Jo! I agree about the teacher doing too much, too. When I was a new teacher, I so exhausted. A very wise principal helped me see that I was doing way too much! You are so right! We have to move the learning to the students! We are all such a work in progress! 🙂

  3. Nancy,
    I couldn’t find your email so here is my message for you.

    I have tagged you in a meme on essential skills. Go here to read my post.http://lauriefowler.blogspot.com/2008/08/essential-skills-for-success-quoted.html

    It was inspired by Miguel Guhlin’s post here.http://www.edsupport.cc/mguhlin/archives/2008/08/entry_7630.htm

    Look forward to what you have to say.


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