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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Beyond Superman: A Guest Blog by George Lucas

George Lucas

Filmmaker and Founder, George Lucas Educational Foundation

Twenty years ago when we started The George Lucas Educational Foundation, we thought it would be 10 years before the general public would understand that the education system was in serious need of fixing. Today, in the wake of new energy in Washington D.C., new focus in the educational and philanthropic communities, and with the recent release of the film "Waiting for Superman," the nation is getting a better picture of what is wrong with public education in America. And people are finally talking about it.

It's time to have a conversation about what's right in our schools, what's working. And as we debate what to do to fix the problems, let's remember that there are successes in education everyday we can emulate. In districts of every stripe and demographic make-up, educators are dedicating themselves to providing their students with a high quality 21st century education, and using new technologies to make it happen. They are showing kids how to find and analyze information and how to creatively deploy their analyses to solve problems. These educators are beginning to re-invent the learning process, guiding students through rigorous, real-life projects that integrate core academic topics and personalize the learning experience based on a child's strengths and weaknesses. They are building confidence and ambition in children, by supporting them emotionally and providing a safe, engaging environment to learn. Most importantly, these innovative educators are creating a next generation of citizens with academic knowledge and problem solving abilities that will serve our country for years to come.

Are there enough of these teachers and principals? No. Will the work of fixing our schools and re-inventing the learning process be long and arduous? Of course. But as we move on from the debate and get busy building a better way, let's remember that the solutions--and the people who are implementing them--are not far away. In fact, they are nearer than you think. Check out our video library for hundreds of examples.

--George Lucas, Filmmaker and Founder of the George Lucas Educational Foundation

This blog also appeared in the Huffington Post.

George Lucas

Filmmaker and Founder, George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Teacher's picture

TO BECKY SHERMAN:

I appreciate your post! Yes, it is a shame the lack of interest that our children have when it comes to reading. But you were right on when you talked about modeling. If we are asking such high expectations of our children, we have to model/live up to those same expectations. For so many of our children, when they leave school, they don't have the luxury of being in a literacy rich environment, and they deserve that! The romance of holding a book and getting lost in its pages is priceless!

Stephanie Poteat's picture

I am realitivlya new special education teacher, but I am truely concerned about the present state of our educational systems and the high number of teacher burnout due to lack of support within their schools. Special Education has an especially high turnover rate, three years that is terrible for these students, I feel it gives our students the impression that we are giving up on them. I do hope with all this talk of reform, we all find a way to support and keep our good teachers, and if there are teachers who need a little extra support in their classrom instruction, administration shoud find these teachers the support they may need to improve classroom instruction.

Amanda's picture

Mr. Lucas, it is refreshing to hear about the positive aspects in the education field today. Thank you for recognizing hard-working educators preparing students to become productive citizens in our country!

Linda Keane AIA's picture
Linda Keane AIA
NEXT.cc Director, Prof Arch/EnvDes, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Having bought the first computer in our department and introduced digital classes, even now, the learning curve can be steep; but there are so many user friendly and free interactives that K12 students AND teachers can learn together. Wiring our schools should be a stimulus fund initiative!

Amanda Hugginkiss's picture

Some really interesting ideas. My one concern is that we not get too carried away with the idea that technology is some magic bullet capable of curing all our ills if it is just used the right way.

Jessica H's picture

I have a bad reaction to the statement including the idea of fixing the problems. What people fail to realize is that schools are dealing with problems that originate outside of the school walls. When are parents going to be held accountable for preparing and supporting their child's education? When are students going to be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof? Schools cannot function or provide quality education without proper and adequate funding. Teachers cannot deliver quality instruction when classes are overloaded due to teacher job cuts. Schools cannot put books in the hands of children when library funding is not a priority. Teachers cannot prepare students to be part of a technology based work force if computers and access to other technology is not available. When is the community going to make educating children the number one priority? That means putting learning before sports, video games, and socializing. That means the community leaders and parents have to do their job, so teachers can effectively do theirs.

Dawn C's picture
Dawn C
Graduate Student MSEd- Mathematics 6-8

I enjoyed reading this blog and watching the videos about the new innovations in education. There are advances in education and technology that increases the education and success our students will receive and accomplish.
I feel it is important to go beyond a textbook and skill and drill in the learning environment. Today's lessons should incorporate technology, hands on activities, labs, real life situation, metacognition (having students think about their way of thinking), the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, Higher Order Thinking Skills, and the list goes on.
The teacher must play multiple roles in the classroom which indeed goes way beyond "Superman". It is important to do your BEST because you have your students' brains and learning experiences in your hands. It is your job to teach them, encourage them, build life long learners, mold them, and never defer or impede them for learning.

Jackie Corbett's picture
Jackie Corbett
Graduate Student- MSEd in Adolescent Literacy and Technology

I completely agree. Many people want to place the blame onto teachers and school districts. How are we supposed to teach when we have classrooms filled with students who do not speak english, or who have learning disorders that can not be addressed becaue teacher aides were cut? Too often, onlookers are quick to point the finger saying that the teachers and the school districts are failing but what they don't realize are the external struggles that we must face on a daily basis. Hungry students, students with broken families, bullying and personal issues all play a vital role in the students willingness to learn and pay attention. These factors can then transform into behavior problems and a severe lack of enthusiasm from students. How do we, as teachers, battle this? We can not afford to give every student a breakfast, and provide one on one tutoring and extra help. We are exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. Like the students, the parents, the administration and the community, we want to see our students do well and become successful, lifelong learners.

Sandra Happold's picture

My opinion only: I work directly with educators on a daily basis; unfortunately many of them are scared to death of the new technology and refuse to accept technology is the future of education. Too many simply think the old way is the best way and unfortunately our children know nothing else. Our children have never known a world without technology and know nothing else they think it is simply the thing to do. Most children know more about technology today than their teachers and since our children have become visual learners this to me is very sad. First thing I see needs to happen is bring our teachers into the 21st century with their students. Make them learn how to use this technology in their classrooms and make the districts upgrade their infrastructure to use it or stay out of education our children deserve that much...

Linda Keane AIA's picture
Linda Keane AIA
NEXT.cc Director, Prof Arch/EnvDes, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

I couldn't agree more. Technology can be terrifying and frustrating at first, but it also can be exhilarating, breath taking and empowering! All US teachers have been introduced to computers (at least once!) according to the Department of Education. Helping teachers learn what programs exist and how they can be integrated into the classroom makes teachers life long learners learning along with their students.

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