In our most recent podcast episode on Star Wars fashion I mention I’ve been dropping Star Wars into my homework since middle school. In high school I wrote three separate essays titled “Darth Vader is a Tragic Hero”, for Ninth Grade English, Tenth Grade English, and a Shakespeare elective. I even used it in my French course: Darth Vader est un héros tragique. My teachers bemusedly agreed.
Definition of tragedy: A hero destroyed by the excess of his virtues.Aristotle
Pop culture is culture. Teachers use Shakespeare to explain Aristotle and Star Wars to explain Shakespeare. And through his discussion of rhetoric, Aristotle was teaching about life. Stories are reflections and explorations of reality. Even the ones about space wizards and laser swords.
Star Wars has many lessons for us. Lessons about the importance of compassion and the necessity of open communication. About the dangers of authoritarianism and the horrors of war. Lessons about political manipulation and about broken systems. About heroism and villainy and everything in between. About growing up and forging your own destiny. And about the cyclical nature of history. These lessons can be applied to curriculums for the study of language arts, social studies, history, economics, health and well-being, and more.
In these strange times it’s comforting to remember the structure of Greek philosophy, European academia, and Hollywood fantasy share the same bones: ours.
NoRedInk drops popular characters into their online lesson plans. It turns homework into fanfiction! They offer a wealth of fandoms, including Star Wars, and each student gets to choose the ones to include.
How do you use Star Wars in teaching or parenting?