AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dr. Jill Biden opened up about the power of teaching during a passionate address for SXSW EDU Wednesday morning.
“Captain America” actor Chris Evans introduced the First Lady’s pre-recorded video message, in which the long-time educator talked about how teachers adapted through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue inspiring students.
As well as thanking teachers taking part in the conference for their “passion,” Dr. Biden reflected on her own experiences during her education career.
“As a teacher, I’ve seen how one moment can change the trajectory of a student’s learning,” she said. “When their eyes light up as an idea just clicks into place, when they realize they are capable of more than they thought.
“Education is a gift that moves from person to person, never diminishing as it spreads,” the First Lady added. “Changing lives as it goes along.”
Dr. Biden also highlighted the increasing importance of technology in the classroom and how COVID-19 forced teachers to adapt and find creative solutions.
She said education “instils in us the wisdom of those who came before.”
“It reveals who we are and helps us grow, and technology is a powerful tool to magnify that good,” she said.
“In this last year, technology helped us get through one of the most trying times in a generation. We saw educators finding new ways to keep classes together, even while they were apart,” she added. “And as we work to get this virus under control, we take with us so many lessons on resilience, creativity and innovation.”
Dr. Biden’s message was part of a panel discussion on A Starting Point, a civic engagement educational tool co-founded by Evans and filmmaker Mark Kassem.
Evans said that he had the idea for A Starting Point a few years ago.
The website features a series of short videos posted by elected Democrat and Republican politicians answering frequently asked questions and engaging in respectful debate about various issues.
“The original goal was to try and create engagement,” Evans said. “I think there are so many issues that need to be addressed in this country, and a lot of them can be impacted by voting.”
The actor said that A Starting Point aims to be an unbiased tool that “arms voters with more information” and “demystifies” political issues.
It has teamed up with the non-profit Close Up Foundation to launch ASP Homeroom, an extension to the platform that they hope will soon make its way into the classroom.
“It’s a nice opportunity to show some young folks these people who have dedicated their lives to be of service,” Evans added. “I think it can inspire a new wave of people in a way that those young folks maybe didn’t have access to 20, 30 years ago.”