Star Wars: Light Years of Learning

may the fourth be with youHappy Star Wars Day, all! Fans of the iconic film series chose this day (originally, way back in 1979) to honor the magnificent franchise and its legendary creator and director, George Lucas.

May the Fourth Be with You

It probably goes without saying that our super smart readers get the pun, but just in case you’re new to all this Star Wars stuff, today is May the Fourth. Yes, May the Force. I’m sorry Fourth. Ok, you get it.

Anyway, I’ve had “watch every Star Wars movie” on my bucket list since The Rise of Skywalker was released in late 2019. While I’ve always been a fan of the films, I’ve never actually watched them in chronological order. Some of them I hadn’t watched since I was a child, and there was even one I hadn’t seen at all (sorry, Attack of the Clones). Like the rest of the world, shelter in place has provided me with more than enough time to finally accomplish this daunting movie task.

Re-watching the films as an adult was actually very interesting; I wasn’t nearly as scared of Darth Vader; I realized Han Solo is actually not the kind of guy you want to date; and calling someone a nerf herder is a very good insult. Now, of course, since I work in the learning and development industry, I couldn’t help but pay more attention to the aspects of Jedi Training and how important it is and errr… where I think they could use some improvements.

Before we get into this, I would just like to say, I am not a Star Wars expert and there is so much that I don’t understand about The Force and other Star Wars-related lore; these are just my musings around training and the film franchise.

Make Sure Training Comes from the Right Place

As we all know, Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are one and the same. Anakin is seduced by the Dark Side as he believes that having more power will help him to save people he loves, like his wife Padme. He ends up in this position because from the beginning the Jedi council mismanaged Anakin’s training. They didn’t have faith in his abilities, and they didn’t know how to manage and train him with the amount of power he had.

So, it’s not very surprising that when Palpatine saw an opportunity to turn him to the Dark Side, Anakin was easily influenced. Palpatine offered him training and a resolution to a problem he was facing, whereas the Jedi Council and Obi Wan Kenobi kind of dropped the ball.

I’m sure a lot of L&D professionals might find this situation familiar. They have learners who are eager to go above and beyond, but sometimes those learners don’t find what they are looking for in their LMS, so they explore other options, like YouTube, and end up getting the wrong information.

Additionally, each of your learners are unique. Some require more attention or different types of learning and it’s important that you consider this when setting up your learning instances. When you provide your learners with good training content and a solid technology platform, they won’t be turned by the Dark Side.

Training on Soft Skills

In Return of the Jedi, the ghost force projection of Obi Wan Kenobi tells Luke to bury his feelings, as they will be his downfall. This is a common theme throughout the entire saga. As I mentioned, I am not an expert on The Force, but it seems to me that by not acknowledging their feelings, that’s when they are most tempted by the Dark Side. Pushing away fear or anger doesn’t help them to understand why they feel the way they feel and how they can overcome it.  

What if the Jedi had implemented some soft skills training on understanding emotions and problem solving? The way I see it, if the Jedi Council had implemented some soft skills training, they might have saved Anakin from going to the Dark Side.

Training is Very Important, Especially When It Comes to Light Sabers

In Return of the Jedi, we see Luke almost being executed by way of the Sarlacc, but to the audience’s delight, Luke jumps and does a backflip, while simultaneously using the force to get his light saber. In the previous films, Luke uses his light saber, but it’s in this moment that he really embraces his training and takes his skills to an entirely new level. It’s thrilling to watch and a great example of how with the right training, you’ll get better results.

Rey also benefits from training. When we first meet Rey, her background as a scavenger provides her with a certain set of skills that allows her to fight well, but she really comes into her own once she understands her power and how to use it.

Your learners are the same. They may have some natural skills, but to help them thrive, they need continuous training that provides them with resources to help them succeed.

Use the Force, Learners 

If there’s one take away here, it’s that training transcends the fiction world and there’s always an opportunity to learn!

Keep your learning engaging and “in the now.” And, May the Fourth be With You!