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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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malcolm bellamy's picture
malcolm bellamy
Teaching and Learning Consultant in Southend, Essex, U.K.

Great post George. What the U.S.A. needs today is more leaders with vision such as yourself who can see what needs to happen in education for future generations and know that technology backed project based learning is the way forward as evidenced in the excellent film that you have included with your post.

Andrew Pass's picture

Mr. Lucas,

I think you are absolutely correct. Now that people recognize that learning in American schools can be much better it is time to start talking about the ways in which learning can improve. Without this discussion it's as if we are helpless whiners. (Unfortunately, too many educational pundits fit this category too much of the time.)

Thanks for everything that you are doing to improve American schools.

Andrew Pass
A Pass Educational Group

Becky Sherman's picture
Becky Sherman
Graduate Student - MSEd with Specialization in Mathematics

Thank you, Mr. Lucas, for recognizing that there are some successes in education today. I welcome the use of new technologies when they are available, however, not all school districts are currently able to supply these new, innovative, and exciting options. This does not mean that technology cannot be introduced in the classroom. Sometimes all we can hope to pass on to our students is the information that there are technological devices that exist. Even though we cannot use these tools in front of our students, the world around them will use the tools and if we fail to let our students know how the world is changing, we do not prepare them for the reality of life outside of school.

There are work arounds for some technological devices. For example, one of the schools I worked at did not have internet access so I could not show video clips of experiments, snippets of plays, or access some of the robotics sights that I wanted to use to engage my students. Under fair use guidelines and using video captured from public domain, I made one copy on a DVD of experiments that we could not do in the classroom due to safety concerns. I did not have any way to project the scenes, so I had to divide my students into groups and have them working on related modules while one group at a time came up and viewed the videos on my personal computer. I have done this method for literature, robotics, mathematics, and more. I found a way to do what could not be done because the information was that important to my students.

When technology is available, great. When there are no resources available, there are still ways to deliver a quality education to the students. It takes effort and the will to do it, but it can be done.

Christine Beyrent's picture
Christine Beyrent
Graduate Student Elementary Ed and Special Education Learning Disabilities

Mr. Lucas:

As a pre-service teacher entering the field of teaching I truly appreciate your posting. It is scary knowing that I am entering the field of teaching during such a controversial time. There are great teachers out there who care so much about children. Thank you for your support and recognition!

Vicki Cobb's picture
Vicki Cobb
Author of many science books for children

If a movie is to be "box-office" you need to start with a great script. The same thing is true for classrooms. Why not let kids read award-winning nonfiction books to enhance the love of learning and reading? We nonfiction authors are coming out of the shadows. Check out our blog: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids: http://inkrethink.blogspot.com and our FREE database that aligns our books to National Educational Standards on our website www.inkthinktank.com and invite us to speak to your teachers and students via videoconferencing; see Ink Link:Authors on Call on our website. Let us be part of the conversation.

Victoria riehle's picture

To incorporate the 21st centuries 4 "C's" (communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking) with the 20th centuries 3 "R's" , let's give the arts a go. The arts are more than just a "special", they allow student's to express themselves in another language while learning and practicing many 21st century skills. Try to become comfortable expressing your self through and with an art form and you'll b amazed at the results.

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