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21 Mar 2016

Education in Star Wars: Any Lessons for Our Planet? By Rémy Jaillat

By Rémy Jaillat (age 14)

Editor’s Note: This light-hearted blog is to mark the occasion of the UN ‘International Day of Happiness’ (20th March). 

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…

starA very different education system is said to have ‘existed’ in the mythical Star Wars saga: the Jedi education system. Nowadays, our education system is not that complex – as can be observed, for example, in almost all schools in Switzerland including primary school, orientation cycle or high school. Would it be appropriate to introduce some of the teaching approaches supposedly used to train Jedi into our education systems? Would this help students become, for example, more interested in school, in future fields of work and better teach them values for life?

In this cinematographic masterpiece, education has a completely different meaning compared to how we know it today. One learns different values and does it in different ways. There are three levels that one can achieve in Jedi’s hierarchy: apprentice or Padawan, Jedi Knight, and, finally, Jedi Master. Only at the latter level can one join the Jedi High Council, which is constituted of twelve members out of whom five are named for life. They direct and guide the Jedi Order. They are the guardians of peace and justice in the Galaxy and take care of consular and/or military missions.

In order to reach this level of nobility one must start by learning the basics of how to master the Force and the lightsaber. Afterwards, one is chosen by a Jedi Master or a Knight and will pursue an apprenticeship period of two to ten years under their guidance. During this period, the Padawans learn the values of respect and inner peace, how to overcome extreme conditions through self-management and how to avoid falling into the hands of the Dark Side – a power embodied by anger and fear. They also learn to master the Force and handle the lightsaber, as we can see in Episode V “The Empire Strikes Back”. Only when the Jedi Council allows the Padawans to take a test can they graduate to become a Jedi Knight. Finally, the Master level is reached when – as a Knight – one has successfully guided a Padawan to the Knight level. One can also become a Master through accomplishing exceptional actions such as saving the Jedi Council or defeating a Sith Lord. Others become members of the Council through self-proclamation, but in such cases, the Council does not recognize them as Masters.

Throughout the training period, a novice or a Padawan is taught by their instructor how to use the Force and the lightsaber. But above all, one is taught values. Jedis make and accept a lot of rules and vows during their training. But while it is obvious that one teaches them many things about the swordsmanship and the Force, what really counts are not the cognitive aspects but the mastering of self-worth, patience, inner peace and respect.

Back in our galaxy, in Europe and in many other places in our world we are taught only about knowledge, nothing more. I think that this is a lack in our teaching system, and we should learn some of these values as Jedis were supposed to have done.

Comparison with our education system  

As one might expect, in comparison to our method of initiation, the procedure used by this old and far away galaxy is quite different.

For example, in our case, I mean on our planet, we have many different kinds of schools with different levels and different types of training. All these different types of teachings are useful for our knowledge and our future professional life. In Star Wars there are of course many other interesting occupations other than becoming a Jedi. Other than the Jedi Training Academy, entry into the other professions was not via formal training, but via self-teaching. As I said earlier, Jedis learn highly important psychological values throughout the years of schooling.

At school we, for example, learn mathematics, French, physics, geography, history etc. We do all these in class by listening to a teacher who is talking at us, and of course some people love this. But this could be better organized and improved. Each week we do the same thing at the same time and that can be quite boring.

May the Force be with you!

So, what I recall from the education system in Star Wars is that they do not only acquire cognitive knowledge but also skills for life.

What we could integrate and develop in our system is to teach students the values of patience, inner peace and respect, which are very important in life, as well as methods of meditation and concentration. One solution would be to hire more teachers in schools in order to diminish the total number of students in class, and so the teacher would be able to organise more activities with their students such as class trips. This would help students discover the world, would expose them to difficult situations that they might encounter later in life, show them the good and the bad aspects of life, teach them how to react, etc. Finally, school trips are always very important during students’ schooling years. Such trips should be better planned and developed, and organised more frequently. Now there is only one excursion at the end of the orientation cycle and one or two during the high school. Besides this, the internships that we are supposed to do are valuable and we must take this opportunity because they will inspire us for our future professional life.

Rémy Jaillat (14 years old) is a student in the orientation cycle (middle school), Bois-Caran Geneva, Switzerland.

(original text in French, translated by NORRAG)

NORRAG (Network for International Policies and Cooperation in Education and Training) is an internationally recognised, multi-stakeholder network which has been seeking to inform, challenge and influence international education and training policies and cooperation for almost 30 years. NORRAG has more than 4,500 registered members worldwide and is free to join. Not a member? Join free here.

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