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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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George Lucas Dedicates Majority of His Wealth to Improving Education

Editor's Note: Our founder and chairman George Lucas has announced his commitment to donate at least half his wealth to improving education. In his pledge, George calls out for the importance of innovation and reform to our schools as the "key to the survival of the human race." Below, we have reprinted the entirety of George's inspiring pledge and his commitment to the values embraced by the Edutopia community.

Storytellers are teachers and communicators who speak a universal language. That was Homer's primary role, and both Plato and Aristotle used narratives and dialogues as a means of educating. Good storytelling is based on truths and insights, and a good storyteller is ultimately a teacher -- using the arts as a means of making education emotionally meaningful. These are all tools at our educational system's disposal, but too often we aren't making use of them.

When I was in high school, I felt like I was in a vacuum, biding time. I was curious, but bored. It was not an atmosphere conducive to learning. I was fortunate that I found my path and my language.

It's scary to think of our education system as little better than an assembly line with producing diplomas as its only goal. Once I had the means to effect change in this arena, it became my passion to do so -- to promote active, life-long learning. I believe in the artisan school of learning, through apprenticeships and Aristotelian questions and discussion. This level of engagement dates back to the beginning of human life, but it's still the best way of doing things. There have to be universal standards particularly in education -- and while it seems unwieldy, there is a willingness among educators to share their best practices.

Ultimately, that is why I created Edutopia and The George Lucas Educational Foundation. The focus of GLEF has been to share educational innovations -- cooperative and project learning, mentorship, parental involvement, and technological advances. This all comes straight from those on the front lines, from teachers who are putting these methods into practice. We are the facilitators. Our goal has been to showcase bold successes and inspire others to further increase the appetite for education. Our hope is that administrators, teachers, and parents will see the power of these collective efforts and join the fight for wider reforms.

But reform is just the beginning. We need to build new foundations, fostering independent thought and a desire to keep learning. Our students need to come away with more than just survival skills, and more than just what is required to complete the program. We need to promote critical thinking and emotional intelligence. We need to focus on building an education system that promotes different types of learning, different types of development, and different types of assessment. We have an opportunity and an obligation to prepare our children for the real world, for dealing with others in practical, project-based environments. It's about working together and building character -- being compassionate, empathetic, and civil as a means to a greater end.

As technology changes, so do students. So should classrooms, and so should our methods of teaching. In a few short years, connectivity has gone from a technological novelty to a daily necessity. It's how our culture communicates, and our children are at the forefront of its use. Understanding those tools and how to integrate them into learning -- is an integral step in defining our future.

My pledge is to the process; as long as I have the resources at my disposal, I will seek to raise the bar for future generations of students of all ages.

I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education. It is the key to the survival of the human race. We have to plan for our collective future -- and the first step begins with the social, emotional, and intellectual tools we provide to our children. As humans, our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think and to adapt - as educators, storytellers, and communicators our responsibility is to continue to do so.

-- George Lucas, Edutopia Founder and Chairman

Comments (24)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Janis Seminara's picture
Janis Seminara
Writer, Writing tutor

Mr. Lucas,

You will change history! Because of your generosity and your vision, the world will have the opportunity to be a better place!

Brian Romero Smith Sr.'s picture
Brian Romero Smith Sr.
Technology Coordinator, Dallas, Texas

Mr. Lucas,

Thank you for always being an inspiration to me since 1977. Your glimpse into the imagination helps all of us to believe that anything is possible.

Anne Smittle's picture

Would George like to donate our little private school here in West Virginia? We do all sorts of new and different things and our kids are learning at advanced levels! C'mon George!!!

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

Thank you George for the inspirational words backed up, as usual, by your actions. You could have chosen a very different path in life and a very different way to spend your money, hopefully it will be an example to others who are not as wise as you but maybe as rich!

Bev Siddons's picture

Thank you, Mr. Lucas for your work to improve education. The California Reading Association is working diligently toward your goals by providing quality professional development opportunities for California teachers as well as working with parents to enhance the literacy education of our youth. One of my goals as an 8th grade teacher was to create productive, thoughtful and creative lifelong learners who are able to read critically and communicate effectively. God bless you in your work and your goals.

Kristen Ross's picture

My Dear Mr. Lucas, I have lined up my Star Wars action figures in order to honor you with a 21 light saber salute! In an age where personal greed and the flaunting of wealth are considered admirable it is truly inspiring to see a person of talent, imagination and creativity using his hard earned money to better the intellectual lives of children. How refreshing it would be if learning could be made fun again! Children could once again learn to play a musical instrument or paint a picture instead of just working to earn the "proficient" label because they passed the latest in a never ending round of standardized tests. We could be creating a generation of thinkers and achievers who could use their minds to create, entertain, enlighten or explore their world in order to make it a better place for all of us. We could create schools where children could explore ALL subjects, not just the ones that the bureaucracy has placed at the top of the list (at least THIS year) in order to find their true callings. We could attract more teachers who are passionate, knowledgeable and dare I say it, unconventional in their methods. Teachers who can make learning exciting again. We are living in a modern world full of technological innovations, yet most schools are still tied to an educational model that has changed little from the Middle Ages. Will money solve everything? Maybe not. But I would sure rather read that Mr. Lucas is spending his on trying to find a better way to do what we do than face another story about million dollar Sweet 16 parties, 800 dollar Manolo's and mink lined shower curtains. Bravo Mr. Lucas, Bravo!!!

Still Searching for Eurekas!'s picture
Still Searching for Eurekas!
Adjunct Professor of Education, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN

George....it was an honor to meet you and talk about school reform at your Skywalker ranch back in the 90's. Your Edutopia has been a big help to positive changes in K-12 education.

This recent gift from you will go a long way in making these changes happen in many more classrooms and with many more students.

God bless you!

Tom King

Still Searching for Eurekas!'s picture
Still Searching for Eurekas!
Adjunct Professor of Education, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN

Bless you for your great generosity in helping bring the positive changes to K-12 education.

"That more may learn more!"

Dr. Tom King
UST

Alesha LeMmon's picture

It is refreshing to see that not all are down on public education. What you have created has helped me become a better teacher on many levels. Thank you for your generosity.

Jennifer Holcombe's picture
Jennifer Holcombe
After School care at the Austin Discovery School (Challenge School)

Perhaps it is that there are a mass of us creative people who have no understanding about the meaninglessness of the present day (and back in my day) reason for teaching what is taught and the way it's taught... Amen that at least one of us has the back up (money) to help out in this endeavor. Thank you Mr. Lucas.

I learned more about life, people and social structure from the Golden movies of old Hollywood than I did from any "adult" teachers (or family!) around me. Amazing psychology was woven through those old stories, they were not all fluff and glamour.

Being somewhere in the second part of my life (old!!!) I have lived and learned, experienced and observed a great deal. Because my own education was so unsatisfactory for me (NYC public school in the 60's then upstate NY in the 70's) I have grown up and have studied much about education. My own life views also reflect into my POV... For me, the out come for an idealized educational system is something so far from what exists today (that I know of).

I would like to see schools smaller and run more like households (less industrialzation). I would like to see what is considered "the basics" entirely restructured. Children should be able to follow their passions at a much younger age. I am a huge proponent for hands on everything. Teach the children to build, to grow gardens, to be involved in the subjects they love outside of the classroom. I think high school should end at 16 (like it did around the turn of last century). I think college should be abolished accept for those who are "academics". I think most post high school learning should be done on the job and young students should get paid for their participation.

Children spend an absurd amount of money that they and their families do not have in the first place to study subjects that never match what is expected of them once they are in their fields and then it is financially devestating to change your major if it is not a good fit. This is a ridiculous formula!

So many changes need to be made...

Thank you Mr. Lucas for being a human being who listens to himself, has the courage to stand up for ideas that are different and the work ethic and talent to have created a world where you can make and share a difference!*

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