Abstract concepts and isolation is education’s worst enemy, says George Lucas, the producer of the Starwars-movies, one the movie-history’s greatest successes. Lucas profound commitment for educational issues is not that commonly known.
We work with computers; we work with film, Lucas said in 1991, let us combine this and create a multimedia tool for learning. From this starting point Lucas founded the non-commercial foundation Edutopia. The foundation did soon change direction to instead teach American schools to most effectively integrate computers as a teaching-tool.
Critique against the school-system
In his critics of the existing school-system, Lucas says, the students learn e.g. mathematics because they have to. Unfortunately, all too rarely, this knowledge is put in a real life perspective. However, the treatment for this abstraction is to visualize exercises with the new information technology. An example of this can be to build a house, which involves many calculations, both when it comes to material, form, size and so on. These calculations are used in a computer simulation program to find out if the house reaches the demands of a real building.
In the same spirit, George Lucas is skeptical to the testing-hysteria. However, it is not the fact that the student should be tested that he turns against. Instead it is the learning path to the actual test situation that he rejects. Today, the student all too often focuses on learning the facts necessary for the test. But for inspiring and effective learning the path to the moment of the test should go through to teach the student how to find relevant information, how to evaluate information and its relevance for a task, and how to make something creative of it. In this form of project-based learning the excellent test-result will come automatically and the students will take the knowledge with them since it is integrated in a natural context. Again new technology is the key for a successful outcome.
Let student discover the answer
The other main critique Lucas express is the problem with the isolation of the educational system during the age of the old industrial society. In case you place everybody in the same box, everybody will be thinking in the same way. Instead of standing in front of the class and imprint facts of different subjects, the teacher should function as a simplifier that is steering the students in order to discover the answer by themselves.
“Kids don’t want to be told how things are. They want to discover how things are.” George Lucas
Favourably with a project-based pedagogy where different teams of individuals with different skills are solving tasks together or more individual-centred tasks. The interactive technology is the bridge to make this pedagogical method more effective.
George Lucas conlusion
Lucas concludes; the printing press made the written word available to everybody. The natural result was for instance that the reading ability, as well as writing ability improved to close to 100% in just a few decades. With the Internet visual media is now available to everybody. If the printing-press and the pencil was the tool at industrial society’s dawn, then it is the computer that is the tool in the post-industrial society. Our job is to take good care of the possibilities that it gives, all according to George Lucas, the producer of the StarWars- movies and the founder of Edutopia.
Written by LarsGoran Bostrom©
The main source of this article is an interview by Jim Daly, Editor in Chief for Edutopia Magazine with George Lucas, as well as other material on http://www.edutopia.org. eLearningworld recommend this website for everybody that is interested in learning about learning.