UPDATE: I recently listened to a podcast, by Chuck Poole, titled ‘3 Lessons We Can Learn From Yoda’ I felt his message fit with the topic of this post so after reaching out to him,
@Gallagher_Tech hey Dan sure go for it! Let me know when you update and I’ll share with my audience!
— Chuck Poole (@cpoole27) January 30, 2017
My post from Dec. 22, 2015:
I recently read a post from Adam Schoenbart‘s blog The Schoenblog titled “8 Things Education Should Learn from Star Wars” He ended his post with Yoda’s final words to Luke (above). It had me reflect on what I have learned and connected between the Star Wars franchise and education, specifically my teaching philosophy.
So, here are my five lessons learned/realized from Star Wars:
I look at the battle meeting at the end of episode IV A New Hope This small rebel alliance was about to mount an assault on the most powerful weapon in the galaxy; a task which rocked even an experienced x-wing pilot to doubt. But Luke, a simple farm boy from Tatooine, had the confidence to accept this challenge and tell others if you look at it differently, it isn’t harder than to “…bull’s eye womp rats in my t-16 back home.” Having and instilling confidence can make even the most incomprehensible, possible.
Technology isn’t always needed (surprising, coming from me)
This will be my first of two references to Ewoks (sorry Kevin Smith). Ewoks, from the planet Endor, proved that you don’t always need technology to complete a goal. When they assisted the attack of the Empire’s outpost, they used primitive tools (in comparison to the high-tech tools the Stormtroopers used). When I taught in the classroom, I didn’t always have technology filled lessons. Some of my favorite lessons included no tech at all. When it comes to lesson design, you have to remember to incorporate technology only if it enhances the instruction.
We are in the business of people. Teaching is all about making relationships. Whether it is working with administrators or our fellow colleagues, interactions with parents, or the nuts and bolts of instructing students, education is all about making relationships. Look at R2-D2 and C-3PO. These two droids came from different places but together they formed a bond that took them across the galaxy. As a teacher, I needed to create relationships like that with each of my students. Not an easy task with some, but necessary if we were to thrive in the classroom. Together we can balance equations (of the Force), survive a field trip to Jabba’s Palace, and put ourselves together when life Strikes Back.
Star Wars shows what can happen when a group of unique individuals bands together on a mission. Each member has their role to fill, whether it is rescuing a princess, lowering the forcefield, or managing the control room; together they accomplish their collective goals. The same is true in the classroom. Heterogeneous groups are students selected and organized who have diverse interests, abilities, and levels. These students interact and learn together by sharing their uniqueness.
Collaborate with other Grade Levels
Now to my second reference to Ewoks. [I need to note, it is not my intention to insult the Ewoks nor do I try to assert that they are beneath the Rebels or lesser than them in any means. I simply look at the two groups as being in different technological levels for this comparison] Back when I taught fourth grade, I would partner up with a first-grade teacher and schedule different lessons/activities with them throughout the year. Our classes were ‘Buddies’ and they created a companionship that reached across ability levels and focused on social-emotional growth. We would do math lessons helping them learn addition & subtraction which reinforced the math facts prior to our learning multiplication and division. They would be our audience during Readers’ Theater. Just as the Ewoks were able to assist the Rebels, our first-grade buddies helped us grow.
Bonus – Never Underestimate Your Students
No Star Wars discussion would be complete without mentioning (arguably) the most hated character of all time… Jar Jar Binks. Everyone put Jar Jar down; never gave him a chance, heck even Jedi Master, Qui Gon Jinn, was quoted saying,
“You almost got us killed! Are you brainless?”
“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.”
But Jar Jar, remarkably, had successes. While trying to escape the Battle of Naboo, he pulled on some ropes and unleashed a series of powerful blue orbs which took out many in the droid army. Our students, even the goofy ones (like Jar Jar) should be held to higher standards. All students can learn, can succeed! (Maybe even one day become a Senator)
What have you learned from Star Wars and connected to education? Please reply in the comments below!