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Jedi Mind Tricks
How Star Wars helps explain civil rights
This amazing teacher uses Star Wars to teach the history of the civil rights movement.
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I’m a big Star Wars fan, but I have to admit, I never thought about how it might relate to civil rights in the United States.

This came up when I was meeting with Nate Bowling, the 2016 Teacher of the Year in Washington state. We were talking about how really effective teachers manage to make the subject matter relevant for their students. “If you hit kids the right way, you can get them super passionate about anything,” he says. “It’s about how you sell it.”

It turns out that Nate loves Star Wars too, and he went on to show me how he uses the original trilogy of movies to help his students understand three landmark moments in the history of America’s civil rights movement. It’s pretty amazing. Take a look:

I wondered how many of Nate’s high-school students have seen the original Star Wars. He said it’s usually about half, and they can explain it to the other kids pretty easily. He’s proud to call himself a nerd, and wants his students to think of themselves the same way. Which brought us back to Star Wars. As Nate reminded me: “Never underestimate the power of nerddom.”

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