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Friday, December 18, 2015

Shedding Light(sabers) on Learning

Forget adaptive learning. Toss out gamification and videos. Who needs lecture podcasts or any other educational techno-tool intended to help students learn better? If you want young people of any age to master academic concepts, you should head to a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars may provide everything that instructors need to illustrate their lesson plans. Using elements from the famed movie franchise, instructors can construct mathematics problems, explore scientific ideas, or explain literary themes. The Star Wars in the Classroom site offers ideas and resources for incorporating Luke, Leia, Han, and the gang in teaching.

Two professors, one at the University of Auckland in Australia and the other at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, wrote a series of papers for Academic Psychiatry recommending that university faculty use the behavior of Star Wars characters to demonstrate psychiatric principles.

“For instance, Luke Skywalker’s moody behavior in the original 1977 film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (not doing chores, hanging out in bars, animal cruelty when ‘bullseyeing womp rats’ on his home planet) might be analyzed by students when talking about manifestations of teenage depression,” said a report by Times Higher Education.

Luke also suffers from Oedipal issues as the result of treatment by his “deadbeat absentee father,” Darth Vader, who in turn exhibits borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. C3PO has obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and Obi-Wan Kenobi displays symptoms of major depression and pseudo-dementia.

The idea is that a cultural phenomenon like Star Wars might hold students’ attention more than traditional textbook content and provide examples of concepts that are easier to understand and retain, helping to awaken the force of learning.

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