Education Trends

George Lucas Dedicates Majority of His Wealth to Improving Education

Describes education as the “key to the survival of the human race.”

August 4, 2010

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

Storytellers are teachers and communicators who speak a universal language. That wasHomer's primary role, and both Plato and Aristotle used narratives and dialogues as ameans of educating. Good storytelling is based on truths and insights, and a goodstoryteller is ultimately a teacher -- using the arts as a means of making educationemotionally meaningful. These are all tools at our educational system's disposal, but toooften 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, butbored. It was not an atmosphere conducive to learning. I was fortunate that I found mypath and my language.

It's scary to think of our education system as little better than an assembly line withproducing 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 theartisan school of learning, through apprenticeships and Aristotelian questions anddiscussion. This level of engagement dates back to the beginning of human life, but it'sstill the best way of doing things. There have to be universal standards particularly ineducation -- and while it seems unwieldy, there is a willingness among educators to sharetheir 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 andinspire others to further increase the appetite for education. Our hope is thatadministrators, teachers, and parents will see the power of these collective efforts andjoin the fight for wider reforms.

But reform is just the beginning. We need to build new foundations, fosteringindependent thought and a desire to keep learning. Our students need to come away withmore than just survival skills, and more than just what is required to complete theprogram. We need to promote critical thinking and emotional intelligence. We need tofocus on building an education system that promotes different types of learning, differenttypes of development, and different types of assessment. We have an opportunity and anobligation 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 -- beingcompassionate, empathetic, and civil as a means to a greater end.

As technology changes, so do students. So should classrooms, and so should ourmethods of teaching. In a few short years, connectivity has gone from a technologicalnovelty to a daily necessity. It's how our culture communicates, and our children are atthe forefront of its use. Understanding those tools and how to integrate them intolearning -- 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 toraise 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 thesurvival of the human race. We have to plan for our collective future -- and the first stepbegins with the social, emotional, and intellectual tools we provide to our children. Ashumans, 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

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