Thursday, September 01, 2005
Taking a Light Saber to Tired Old Teaching
George Lucas knows why the classroom needs to be transformed to better engage students and encourage creative productivity. This New York Times article describes his experiences in school: "A bored, dreamy student, George had struggled with spelling and needed to repeat math the summer after eighth grade. His high school art teacher, looking over George's drawings of space soldiers, admonished him, "Get serious." George's father refused to pay for him to study illustration in college, hoping instead he would take over the family's office-furniture store."
And this is what he has done about it:"Out of his own uninspiring education, the conviction that his abilities were ignored and throttled by conventional schooling, Mr. Lucas, 61, has assiduously yet quietly built a foundation devoted to education reform over the past dozen years.
"This is no exercise in designer charity. The George Lucas Educational Foundation has 30 full-time employees, a $4 million annual budget and a headquarters on the founder's Skywalker Ranch here in the Marin County hills. It publishes a magazine(Edutopia), produces documentaries, supports projects in both public and private schools, distributes an e-mail newsletter and maintains an extensive Web site, glef.org."
The Lucas Foundation "gets it," and the reforms, which I mentioned in a previous post, are even more vital now than when George Lucas spent time in the classroom. For now, as Marc Prensky said, "Every kid at some level has something really engaging him. And so they understand what that means and I think that's one big difference. So they're looking now to find engagement in school." Unfortunately, in too many ways, school remains fundamentally the same.