George Lucas Educational Foundation

A Word from George Lucas: Edutopia's Role in Education

A Word from George Lucas: Edutopia's Role in Education

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Education is the foundation of our democracy -- the stepping-stones for our youth to reach their full potential. My own experience in public school was quite frustrating. I was often bored. Occasionally, I had a teacher who engaged my curiosity and motivated me to learn. Those were the teachers I really loved. I wondered, "Why can't school be engaging all of the time?" As a father, I've felt the imperative to transform schooling even more urgently.

Traditional education can be extremely isolating -- the curriculum is often abstract and not relevant to real life, teachers and students don't usually connect with resources and experts outside of the classroom, and many schools operate as if they were separate from their communities.

Project-based learning, student teams working cooperatively, children connecting with passionate experts, and broader forms of assessment can dramatically improve student learning. New digital multimedia and telecommunications can support these practices and engage our students. And well-prepared educators are critical.

The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) documents and disseminates the most exciting classrooms where these innovations are taking place. By shining the spotlight on these inspiring teachers and students, we hope others will consider how their work can promote change in their own schools.

Our Foundation staff is eager to know about your work in improving schools and what you think of our site. We encourage you to share your ideas on by contributing to the comments field at the bottom of any content page, or email your comments to

Other Commentary


Why Teachers Matter (2014)
A Note from George Lucas: Celebrating Unsung Heroes in Education (2013)
Education: The Single Most Important Job (2012)
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, filmmaker and Edutopia founder George Lucas shares his vision for how education can change lives.

Join the Movement to Transform Learning (2011)
George Lucas shares his thoughts on shining a spotlight on the most exciting classrooms, schools, and districts where innovations in teaching and learning are taking place.

Beyond Superman (2010)
Edutopia founder George Lucas responds to the Waiting for Superman discussion.


Talking Heads and Hearts: Intellectual and Emotional Education Make a Potent Pairing (2008)
George Lucas joins a panel of national experts moderated by Daniel Goleman that explores the value of social and emotional learning.

George Lucas: Sharing His Hope for Education at Dreamforce (2007)
The education visionary speaks about innovation in education and the critical need for businesses to better support educational programs.


The Next Chapter (2010)
George Lucas on revving up for the future of by supporting a Web-only platform with a strong community component.

Mr. Lucas Goes to Washington: Edutopia's Founder Advocates Telecom Access For All (2008)
The chairman of The George Lucas Educational Foundation urges Congress to expand Internet discounts for schools.

Educating Hearts and Minds: An Interview with George Lucas (2007)
George Lucas and Daniel Goleman discuss the many ways that social and emotional learning enhance the education process.

George Lucas: What Education Means to Me (2003)
"I've been interested in education for many years now, with vivid memories of my boyhood growing up in Modesto, California. Frankly, I was not very engaged in my classes; in fact, as a boy, I liked to daydream and write stories."

Classrooms Without Borders: A Worldwide Learning Environment (2002)
"Since September 11, the need to educate American children about the larger world has become even more urgent. Perhaps now we will see the need . . . to teach more deeply about the profound similarities and differences of the world's peoples."

EQ>IQ: The Value of Social and Emotional Learning (2001)
"In my work in filmmaking, we need talented individuals with technical skills, but their abilities to communicate and work with others are just as valuable."

On Teachers and Teaching: The Key to Innovation in Education (2000)
"The most powerful element in education is the teacher. Nothing will ever compete with that."

The Power of Teachers: The Opportunity to Shape Lives (1999)
"There is no more critical need in our society today than preparing teachers who know their subject matter well and who understand the social and emotional needs of students."

Comments (17) Sign in or register to comment Subscribe to comments via RSS

Rick Riffel's picture
Rick Riffel
A student in Oregon

I don't know how busy you are or if you have any time to read this. It would be an honor for me if I could speak to you. Your movies have meant so much to me, however, my own education has meant much more to me and right now it still does. I am an adult with a broken education. I want it fixed.

Edutopia! This and your education foundation, is it for teachers and school faculty only, or can students join in? If so, this looks like a bridge. A way over a rift in education, so I can communicate with and connect with other students and with educators and experts from all places in the education system. Someone who could help me fix my broken education, to make it new and whole.

Who knew a celebrity, any kind of celebrity, would provide a real resource to find practical help for real problems that ordinary people have? I once saw another celebrity on TV say "Get a life!" I have long wanted to say "I hear you. I want to get a life. I will get myself a life, and I am working on it." As a lifelong fan of movies and SF, I never did want to do nothing but sit on a couch and watch the same movie 500 times over, or spend all my time dressing up in costumes and going to conventions and parties. I have wanted to work, and to go to school to learn real knowledge so I can do real work. I still do, now more than ever.

I do not want charity or welfare. I need school, and friends, and someone who can help.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

Hi Rick. Edutopia is open to everyone who is interested in improving education; teachers, parents, students, policymakers, everyone. You're welcome to join our community. You've already taken the first step by commenting here. :-)

Just take a look around, share your thoughts, ask questions--sometimes we'll have answers, sometimes we won't. The idea is that we're looking for a way forward together.

Rick Riffel's picture
Rick Riffel
A student in Oregon

Improving my own education is what I am interested in, but I'm open to more possibilities. I keep having questions and ideas. I'd like a place to think out loud, but in a constructive way, and be taken seriously. Maybe I can suggest some answers for someone else's questions. I would not mind hearing what everyone has to say, and looking at the education situation from everyone's viewpoint. It would be great to know that my situation is not over with, not hopeless, and I don't have to handle it alone.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

Rick, I saw that you posted a discussion on the community bulletin board, so I'll respond there. That way, if the conversation wanders, we won't be too "off-topic" for this page. :-)

Rick Riffel's picture
Rick Riffel
A student in Oregon

George Lucas, the revered "Star Wars" creator, and George Lucas, the ordinary man with an idea to benefit many other ordinary people. I have no problem with keeping the two separate and distinct. The latter I really admire, really inspires me. I'd like to do what he does. Not with a movie camera, but with a website. I know there are other places to talk about George Lucas, but I do know Edutopia can show me other people showing other ideas and examples, ones even more inspiring. I'm already finding out new things that I want to try. Information I can use creatively and effectively. I share the vision.

becky cunningham's picture
becky cunningham
Loving teaching and children is the beginning

Dear Mr. Lucas,
I teach Preschool, 2year olds. I love what we do! Please guide me so that I can be a teacher who can help form children to be happy, loving and intelligent. I really want to help my children especially some with special challenges. This is where my heart is and any information will be so very helpful.
Thank you,
Becky Cunningham

Tempe Laver's picture

I am actually critical of your pedagogical approach. You claim that it is evidenced based yet much of the solid evidence is, in fact, in favour of direct/explitct or Direct Instruction ie see Hattie; The Sutton Report and "Project Follow Through" to name but three. Could you please provide the studies that you base your assumptions on? I would be interested in the evidence that you have that backs up your assertions.

Trindleman's picture

I have created a technology management center for my classroom that includes 32 charging ports and slots for 32 phones. I am planning on assigning slots by seat number and requiring that students charge their phones for the first half of class. My challenge is to keep them engaged enough to forget about their charging devices. Once I have them, I should have the advantage.

Nia's picture

I am working on creating a community history project for a community that is undergoing urban renewal fueled by eminent domain. And, has and will involuntarily relocate families with generational history to neighborhoods in my area.
As I am a community based alternative education facilitator with presence on a new school board, and enjoy the potential benefits of having launched school wide projects in my city, I feel I am a seasoned education activist in need of fresh ideas.
Do you think the community bulletin board would be the best space for me to begin conversations and inquiries for suggestions from professional /alternative educators on how to design and market engaging History project based learning opportunities for
student engagement in creating neighborhood wide engagement with creating a historical library geared toward families who are being encouraged from their historical begin, would like ideas on some essay topics and/or activities I might
market to neighborhood schools that would excite whole family project based learning about the history of a neighborhood's survival beyond urban renewal. Thanks

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

Hi Nia!
Feel free to start a new discussion- just click on "Join the discussion" at the top of the page, and then "start a discussion." Once you write up your post, you'll see that there are lots of different topics you can choose to for tags. It sounds like you have a really interesting question to explore and I'm sure the community here would love to help you out! Let us know if you have any trouble. :-)

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