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Why can’t we lecture like Obi-Wan?

August 4, 2011
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After live tweeting Dan Meyer’s talk, I really can’t type up a whole blog post summarizing just how excellent it was. But there is one point that I want to raise an focus on a bit more. Dan was making the point that he isn’t at all against lecture, and he chose to say so by talking about the example of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He discusses how Obi-Wan does nothing but lecture for the entire Star Wars movie.

But then Dan goes on to say, look at what Obi-Wan doesn’t do, which I’ll paraphrase

Obi-Wan doesn’t write on the chalkboard 3.2 lightsaber, drone on for 40 minutes and then tell Luke to do 20 problems for homework.

Look at this teaching moment and all its ingredients:

  • Obi-Wan has certainly worked to capture Luke’s interest. He’s shown him all sorts of Jedi tricks (“These are not the droids you are looking for”), and even shown off his badassness by scaring off the Sand People. He’s also sharing stories to hook Luke (“your Dad was a Jedi”)
  • Luke still has a hard time buying it. Luke doesn’t know what a Jedi is, and he’s basically not interested. He doubts himself, he doesn’t want to go to Alderaan, and he’s basically a mess. It’s up to Obi-Wan to change persuade him to change his mind.
  • There’s a lot of doing, practice, and failure. You don’t learn to be a Jedi by reading about Jedi. Luke is constantly active and engaged. You’ve got to practice, and most importantly, you’ve got to fail.
  • Obi-Wan is helping Luke to develop a new way of seeing. By placing the helmet over his head, he’s trying to get him to move beyond the senses he’s comfortable with and develop a completely new way to ‘see’ the world.
  • Obi-Wan gives very specific and timely feedback. The entire movie is filled with moments of Obi-Wan offering specific feedback at just the right time—”Use the force, Luke” Notice also that most of Obi-Wan’s advice comes in the form of responses to Luke’s questions.
  • Obi-Wan builds a strong connection with his student Throughout this scene you can witness a very strong bond between teacher and student.

Now this is the type of lecture I would love to do. And if I could lecture in lightsbaer combat, or Jedi mind tricks, that’d be even better. And I do think there’s a little bit of Obi-Wan in each of us.

And this cartoon is just too awesome. I had to include it:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2011 2:35 pm

    Obi-Wan didn’t kill the sand people, he scared them off.

    Also, when Luke is learning the light saber – who is holding the light saber? Obi-Wan or Luke? Luke.

    Oh – and a nod to Vertasium, this quote: “your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them”

    • August 5, 2011 12:45 pm

      Rhett, I need to keep that one in my back pocket: “who is holding the light saber? Obi-Wan or Luke?”

      I may have to use that one on the first day of classes this year.

  2. August 7, 2011 7:24 pm

    Ha. Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

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