When you work in the education field and you’re obsessed with Star Wars, it’s hard not to wonder if Luke wouldn’t have been a more successful Jedi if he’d had more of a growth mindset. Because really, isn’t Yoda every educator who has ever tried to encourage a learner to expand their horizons, to recognize what they’re capable of, to not give up when things don’t go quite the way they planned?
Luke is so afraid to fail during his training on Dagobah that when he doesn’t successfully lift his X-wing from the swamp the first time, he insists he’ll “never” be able do it. Does this sound like anyone you know?
I’ve had the opportunity to witness children as young as 5 or 6 demonstrating growth mindset, explaining their strengths and talking about the ways they’re going to work differently to get to where they want to be, and children in the third grade positively school me on fixed vs. growth mindset. They’re ready for every challenge because they aren’t afraid of failure – they recognize, in the way so many adults cannot, that it’s just a part of the learning process. The things that they don’t know, that they haven’t done, they’re just things they haven’t accomplished yet.
Qui-Gon Jinn, another student of the Force and a Jedi Master, tells young Anakin Skywalker that, “Your focus determines your reality.” If you believe that you will fail, you will fail. But equipping students with the tools they need to succeed, providing them the resources and supports to realize their own potential, empowering them, these things open up a whole host of opportunities.
Similarly, Qui-Gon Jinn’s Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, who goes on to teach both Anakin and Luke, argues that “many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” Points of view can be changed, and there’s no one better to do it than a teacher.