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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

George Lucas: Sharing His Hope for Education

The education visionary speaks about innovation in education and the critical need for businesses to better support educational programs.
Transcript

George Lucas: Sharing His Hope for Education (Transcript)

Marc Benioff: It is my greatest pleasure to be able to bring this program to you today, and I hope that the experience that you have with George Lucas and Bob Thurman in conversation will be as transformational for you in your lives and in your organizations as it has been for me. These are truly two of the great people we have in the world. So please welcome George Lucas and Robert Thurman.

George: I didn't enjoy school very much. Occasionally I would come up with a teacher who would inspire me, but as I got older and I began to work with computer technology and telling stories through film I began to wonder why couldn't we use these new technologies to help improve the educational process?

Narrator: Since 1991 the George Lucas Educational Foundation has chronicled what works in public education.

Noel: Imagine education at its best, and imagine bringing the resources of George Lucas to document it.

Narrator: We offer our award-winning media on several platforms including documentary films, Edutopia magazine, and our website edutopia.org showcasing ideal learning environments, providing concrete examples of how technology is creating new opportunities for teaching and learning.

Teacher: So you want to put your GPSs up this way.

Narrator: We focus on five key topic areas.

Teacher: What you need to do is you rescale it so that-

Narrator: Project learning: students engage in rigorous real-world projects to learn core subject matter and achieve deeper understanding. Cooperative learning: students learn to collaborate, communicate, and resolve conflicts by working together.

Student: This represents the scales of the alligator.

Narrator: Integrated studies: isolated individual subjects are presented in an interdisciplinary fashion that reflects modern knowledge and how students learn best.

Student: Nothing can stop us.

Narrator: Comprehensive assessment.

Student: Transportation--

Narrator: Assessments measure the full range of student ability through multiple measures including portfolios, performances, and tests.

Teacher: Writing, you're making steady progress.

Narrator: Teachers: teachers provide the human touch, the most valuable element in education by nurturing the students' interests and confidence.

Teacher: Look how smart you are.

Narrator: All of our media comes together at edutopia.org, a deep archive of constantly updated information available free on demand to a worldwide audience. We offer everything from classroom tips for teachers, to tools for district-wide change. And we invite users to join in the discussion offering their own suggestions and insights for improving education.

Student: Doctor, I was just curious how would this surgery differ if somebody already had a bypass surgery?

Doctor: Good question. Fundamentally it's the same operation.

George: The Educational Foundation has really become dedicated to taking all the best ideas that are out there that people are actually experimenting with in the real world and disseminating that information to anybody who wants it or needs it.

Ryan: Edutopia has been a resource that I've grasped onto as an administrator and somebody who truly believes in the power of integrating technology in the classroom. The video clips in particular on the website connected to the stories offer a powerful message.

Marco: It shows you examples of how it's working in places where people thought they wouldn't work or schools that have challenges like mine. They go out and discover the gold and they share it with everybody else.

Teacher: Beautiful and we're going to bring it right over here.

Student: Are we going to have enough room for the whole webpage just from that one line?

George: I strongly believe that education is the single most important job that the human race has. I'm very excited that we have been able to find a little spot in the educational community where we can help give people the tools they need to go into their own community and improve their own educational systems in their own way.

Narrator: Experience edutopia at www.edutopia.org.

Robert: That's great, George. Well it's really great of you to come, George and to share your passion with people.

George: Well it's great to be here.

Robert: That's good and thanks to Mark and to the community of the wonderful community of Salesforce.com. And maybe we should start with your own story, George. Like let us know a little like how did you get to this passion? You're the movie-maker, Star Wars, the whole thing, Yoda. Did Yoda tell you to get into education?

George: [laughs] Well, when I started out in the school K through 12 I didn't do very well at all. I just didn't fit in. I guess I was too much of a daydreamer. I really wasn't a big fan of math and science and all of the curriculum that they put inside the box and I lived outside the box and so I didn't really have a good time. It wasn't really until I hit college that I began to enjoy the educational process because I had more control over what I was learning.

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: And I am very interested in social science. And I was a history major in high school but I became an anthropology major in junior college where I started and suddenly it was a lot of fun and I was doing much better at it. And I realized that learning is a fun thing to do.

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: Especially if you're interested.

Robert: Right.

George: And that was the primary thing. So I went to film school. I discovered film school. I had no interest in film before I got there. I thought I was interested in art and I wanted to be an illustrator, and a friend of mine said "Well they have a photography school at U.S.C." but I discovered it wasn't a photography school. It was actually a cinema photography school. And it wasn't even a cinematography school, it was a cinema school and they teach you to make movies and I said "This is insane. You mean you go to university to learn how to make movies?" And but I went there, my first semester I fell in love with it, realized I was very good at it and it became a passion. I was very fortunate because your passion, finding your passion of what you want to do in life is the single most difficult thing you can do.

Robert: Right.

George: And if you can find it, if you can find it early, it's just a fantastic advantage over everything because then no matter what happens, you're going to be happy.

Robert: Right.

George: And so later on I was, you know, we were sort of on the leading edge of using computers to develop special effects and things in the movies, and I was a storyteller and I said "What if I just combine these two things and built a sort of a learning machine, a multi-media project?"

Robert: Right.

George: And I think this would be a great way to learn. It would be much more interesting, much more engaging. Started that which basically was the beginning of the foundation, and talked to a lot of educators. We bring educators in for a day twice a week in all different fields, all different areas, experts for years we did this. And they kept saying "Look, don't build a model of multimedia. Don't show how mu-- what we need is to be able to tell the story of how to integrate technology into schools. We go to conferences. We only get an hour. It takes us a whole hour to explain it. If you could tell the story, you could do it in 10 or 15 minutes using visuals and movies."

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: "And then we can spend the rest of the time answering questions and being very effective."

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: And what needs to be told is the story of what education should be.

Robert: Mm-hm.

George: It seemed like a very modest thing and not very glamorous but these people were so passionate about it that I picked it up and took it on. It's been quite a while now about 12 years.

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: That we've been doing this.

Robert: Right.

George: And what we do is take the best practices-

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: Of what education will look like using technology-

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: Using video, using the Internet, using computers and multimedia in the classroom and what it does is it opens a whole different paradigm of the way we learn. We've been saying for ever since I've been born-

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: We've got to change education. We got to make it work. It's got to be better. It's not working. What can we do? And let's throw more money at it. Let's do this. But the great thing is technology, the digital age-

Robert: Right.

George: The computer, is going to do that.

Robert: Right.

George: It cannot stay like you were 200 years ago. It just isn't going to work.

Robert: Right.

George: So what I've dedicated myself to doing is saying okay you got your computers.

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: But don't put them in a little classroom and teach people Word Perfect two days a week as an elective.

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: Because the kids already know that anyway. Take the computers and use them as a tool like a pencil to help the educational process.

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: To help the learning process for the students and out of that we realized that it facilitates age-old techniques of learning which is cooperative learning, interactive working.

Robert: Right.

George: It's project-based learning is the cobbler.

Robert: Right.

George: Interactive cooperative learning is Aristotle.

Robert: Right, right, right.

George: He never taught anything. He never said "Well the way you do it is you do this and this and this." He always said "Well how would you do it? Here's a problem. What do you think about that?"

Robert: Right.

George: And then he would either-

Robert: It's a dialogue with people.

George: It was a dialogue. It was a thing where the students did the learning and the teacher was there to facilitate.

Robert: Right.

George: And to say "Well have you thought of this?"

Robert: Right.

George: Lots of great theory but there's a big hole right here.

Robert: Right.

George: Think about that.

Robert: Right.

George: That is the way education should be.

Robert: Right.

George: And it's worked for thousands and thousands of years and that's the way young children learn. They learn out of curiosity. Kids only have one job in their life, and that is to grow up and be an adult.

Robert: Right.

George: That's all they want. And so you give them any kind of adult work, they'll do it and they'll be very excited about it.

Robert: Right.

George: So instead of saying "Learn math", you say "Here I want you to build an airplane but it has to be a real airplane. We're going to simulate it here on the computer."

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: "But you have to learn all the science. You have to learn all the math, you have to learn all the stuff in order to get to build this airplane."

Robert: Right, right.

George: So they learn it because they need it as a tool and they know why they're learning it. That suddenly engages them in a way and they are learning to do something.

Robert: Uh-hum.

George: Because our philosophy is you teach kids how to find information. You teach them how to assess that information and see how true it is, and then you use it in a creative endeavor to build something, to do something.

Robert: Right, like I was just thinking like in geography class, right, Google Earth get that available to kids on their hands. You know teachers giving a lecture and they can zoom in on Saskatchewan. You mentioned earlier-

George: Right.

Robert: Sometime to find out where Saskatchewan was when you were little.

George: Well we've- what we've done is say we have narrowed our programs into just informing people.

Robert: Yes.

George: We gather the information. We say "Google Earth, look on edutopia. You'll see one of the tools you have available to you is Google Earth if you do geography."

Robert: Right.

George: But it shows you all the things that are available to you.

Robert: Mm-hm.

George: But it also shows-

Robert: You have that on the website, teachers can use that.

George: Yeah, and it shows you then how to organize a classroom-

Robert: Uh-huh.

George: Around these ideas using the technology: cameras, computers, the Internet, to enhance the learning experience.

Robert: Uh-hum.

George: And you can do it, there's a zillion different ways. We show the ones that are actually being used now.

Robert: Right.

George: All this is very, very, new and all we're trying to do is make it more available, the information more available.

Robert: Right.

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The namesake and chairman of The George Lucas Educational Foundation discusses his vision of Edutopia at Dreamforce, the annual conference for customers of the customer-relationship-management company salesforce.com, as part of the event's increased focus on education reform and the need for greater business investment to achieve that goal.

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Jota's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

It's a really cool conversation, BUT was it necessary to put the whole edutopia ad before it? :)

Janet's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Jota,

You would be surprised how many schools don't know about Edutopia.

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