Thursday, August 5, 2010

Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, and homeschooling

By now you may have read my first post: Star Wars, Darth Vader and project based learning. I want to revisit this theme of non-formalized education. I never would have seen myself saying this but Obi Wan and Yoda were outdated in their instructional techniques. To examine this concept let us return to the real world for a moment to illustrate the parallel.

Take reading for example, most ordinary people view reading or learning to read as a mystical and complex endeavor, where "experts" are needed to instruct the young "Jedi". We have spent billions of dollars developing techniques and processes to further increase the aura of this task. We send the youth to large institutions where the masses are taught to read in a systematic, regimented, and prescribed format. Teachers are being trained to follow procedures and stick to the script. In a time of national crisis in education, individual needs are being sacrificed for the greater good. Great interest at a policy level is the push to replicate or "clone" schools that work.

Back to Yoda, how did the use of clones work out for the republic? Oh that's right. They turned into the dreaded Storm Trooper. Are we creating our own clones that will not think for themselves? Yoda and Obi Wan were part of the problem. Yoda didn't even want to teach Luke at first - "he is too old." It is always harder to teach humans who have developed and are more resistant to being treated like an empty vessel waiting to be filled. This may explain why we can get away with "drill and kill" on little children and by the time they reach the high school level they rebel.

Remember it was the free thinking Luke, homeschooled for the majority of his life that left Dagobah in the middle of his regimented training to go save his friends. Yoda and Ben were beside themselves, thinking the young Luke was not ready to confront Vader. (Does the concept of prolonged adolescence jump into your mind? I'll save that concept for another blog.)

When he returned to Dagobah, Yoda told him his training was complete. How did he accomplish the mystical and complex teachings of the force without a scaffold scoped and sequence curricula? Like most humans we learn things when we need to, sometimes on our own, sometimes through short periods of help from others, sometimes through books ... you get the picture.

The problem is that we have swallowed the idea that we need experts to learn anything. Luke never lost sight of what was really important. So as a young man without a diploma, blows up the Death Star, becomes a Jedi, helps destroy the Emperor and saves a soul. Not bad for a kid with little formalized instruction.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. I'm so glad you guys are blogging! I love your posts-always funny and smart!

  2. By the way, I'm passing along some blog awards to you to display proudly on your mantel!

  3. Thanks Michelle! Star Wars geeks can see both the humor and parallels in this one. Thanks so much for the award! Now, how do I re-share?