It's not to say this was news. As the process has gone on, many of us have realized that our studies aren't going to change the world. Many in the program are merely offering tweaks to existing methods, or testing out theories which were written by other people. Still, it was unusual to have someone in a place of authority admit that, ultimately, our work doesn't really make a difference.
I am certain my students, even the good ones, know this to be true. Even the best written CP English 12 Macbeth paper, or the most interesting CP English 11 persuasive speech is unlikely to rock the English department to such a degree that BHS is never the same. Many students realize that even the best work is still part of what's expected...and most work teachers receive is far from "best".
So the question becomes "Why? Why do we do it?" If we can't contribute anything of significance, is there really a point in putting in the effort? If the answer has already been discovered, why do we have to find it?
Of course we already the answer. The answer is that the it's all about the process. The answer is that the practice is key so we can find our passion. The answer is that "the powerful play goes on and we may contribute a verse". Students won't change the world with a math worksheet, but they may learn a concept. I won't change education with my Gamification, but I may be able to refine my practice. Very few scientists will ever cure any diseases, yet their insignificant failures add to a continuum of human knowledge moving inevitably and irrevocably towards progress. It always has.
So my director was correct. No one really ever turns in anything significant...but that's the point. The point is to learn. The work may not be significant, but we are. "It eluded us then, but no matter. Tomorrow, we'll run faster, stretch out our arms further until...one fine day..." -The Great Gatsby