Recently I said to a friend and fellow Star Wars aficionado, “I love Star Wars but I don’t really like Science Fiction.” He replied, “That’s because Star Wars isn’t Science Fiction. It’s Fantasy.”
Well that didn’t help me at all because I don’t really like Fantasy either. My favorite genre is Southern Gothic. I double checked to see if Carson McCullers and Cormac McCarthy are both considered Southern Gothic and they are. Star Wars is most definitely not Southern Gothic.
So I typed, “What genre is Star Wars” into a search bar. What came up was that Star Wars is Science Fiction. Huh? Dug a little deeper. What came up was that Star Wars isn’t really Science Fiction because there is not an underlying scientific explanation for what is going on, so it’s Fantasy. Huh? HUH??
After a little more research, I identified a subgenre of Science Fiction called Space Opera. Apparently many folks classify Star Wars into this subgenre and I was happy with that because I felt I was getting closer to figuring out what was going on. Space Opera has little to do with operas, such as La Bohème, where people sing at each other for three hours and then die at the end, but more to do with Horse Operas (westerns) and Soap Operas (daytime dramas). All operas have melodramatic adventures, battles, chivalry, and conflict, but in Space Operas they play out, well, in space with futuristic weapons and technology.
So what does this have to do with math, teaching, and / or teaching math? Not a whole lot. But it does have to do with learning. There are several important parts to learning and a few of them happened in this little research adventure. Be curious. I was curious about why I like Star Wars but not Science Fiction. Ask questions. I posed a question and searched for the answer. Classify results. I wanted to classify Star Wars genre like I want to classify a function as linear or quadratic. Are our students curious? If not, can we spark their curiosity? Do our students formulate good questions? If not, can we help them construct questions which illuminate their understanding? Can our students classify? Without this skill, students will never be able to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate.
Happy Star Wars Day. And May The Fourth Be With You.
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