Life on the Screen: Visual Literacy in Education

In the rolling hills of California’s Marin County grows a brittle amber grass known for one thing: its combustibility. If ignited, this thigh-high tinder burns furiously, rapidly consuming everything in its path.
The same can be said of the filmmaker who calls these hills just north of San Francisco his home. George Lucas is regarded as one of the legends of American cinema. By the mid-1980s, he had made a number of blockbusters, including Star Wars, American Graffiti, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Released in 1977, Star Wars is still one of the top-grossing films of all time.
Just as Lucas once envisioned new intergalactic worlds, today he envisions a new world of learning. He grew up one-hundred miles inland from these coastal hills in the searing heat of Modesto, California, tinkering with cars and helping out at his dad’s stationery store. He was, he recalls, “an average student who daydreamed a lot.” It is perhaps those early memories of unfocused ambition that have infused him with a desire to promote a new way of learning that prepares students to succeed in a highly wired and visual world.
Lucas habitually dresses in jeans, sneakers, and work shirts — a man looking like there is much work to be done. For the American educational system, he says, that work must begin now.

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