George Lucas’s sale of the Star Wars franchise to Disney has been making major headlines. Disney paid a whopping $4.05 billion for exclusive rights to Star Wars, and according to Business Week, Lucas is receiving approximately $2 billion in cash and $2 billion in Disney stock. Lucas has already announced that he plans on using most of the proceeds to benefit education, referring to education as “the key to the survival of the human race.” Lucas felt that his own formal education was lacking, which inspired him to improve education for future generations.
Prior to this sale, he has already been heavily involved in contributing to the improvement of education in America. Back in 2010, Lucas made a public assertion of his commitment to education in a Giving Pledge letter, saying:
“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.”
Good Education Matters
Lucas reports that his own educational experiences failed on many fronts. Business Week quotes him as saying, “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.” Because of this lackluster experience, he was motivated to make a difference once he had the means to do so. He still feels that the current system is in vast need of improvement, saying, “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 affect change in this arena, it became my passion to do so – to promote active, lifelong learning. I believe in the artisan school of learning, through apprenticeships and Aristotelian questions and discussion." Being adept with technology, Lucas has used computers and media as a means of connecting with students, most notably through his website, Edutopia.
The Huffington Post believes that Edutopia will likely benefit from the Star Wars sale. Lucas is chairman of Edutopia, part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Edutopia, according to the site, aims at “empowering students to think critically, access and analyze information, creatively problem solve, work collaboratively and communicate with clarity and impact.” The site aims to achieve this by offering videos and resources on assessment, project-based learning, cooperative learning and social/emotional development, professional development and technology implementation. There are community groups to encourage teacher collaboration, profiles of exemplar classes and schools, and educator blogs.
While Lucas has not explained where he will specifically invest these funds for education, Education Week has made some predictions. Typically, philanthropists invest in their own passions, and Lucas is known for being groundbreaking in his use of technology, as well as for his passion for storytelling. It is possible that he may provide grants for interest-based and project-based learning, support education in the arts, and continue to focus on developing Edutopia's core strategies of integrated studies, comprehensive assessments, teacher development, and social/emotional learning--among others.