With the experiment of forced remote learning being tried right now, and copious anecdotal reports of difficulty with the format, I started thinking about Anakin Skywalker. Well, it didn’t start with Anakin in specific, but my brain went to Star Wars and then it’s never too many steps from my favorite tragic hero.
I thought of how children in that galaxy far, far away would have had to manage their learning and how they could possibly achieve anything approaching a uniform standard.
Basically, the learning standards of that galaxy far, far away had to be a mess.
We do know that learning, knowledge, and wisdom were somewhat valued. Obi-Wan Kenobi demonstrates that important point with Dexter Jettster when he says, “Well if ‘droids could think, there’d be none of here, would there?” This sort of intellectual bias against machinery is explainable, from L3-37’s perspective insulting, but overall indicative of the idea that there is some basic standard of learning that occurs throughout the galaxy.
Anakin seems able to read when he’s discovered on Tatooine, and it follows he can since he can operate machinery. That can’t be explained just by virtue of tinkering, as there have to be instructions to follow at some point. Additionally, and more importantly, when Artoo’s speech is translated on the screens of the Naboo fighter he can read it. So there’s evidence that even slaves on remote outpost worlds get some sort of basic teaching.
This could be explained away that Shmi was simply a very attentive mother who made sure her son could read. However, a completely illiterate society seems unlikely in the era of galactic travel and culture.
Still, the Question of Standards
But how could a consistent standard possibly be applied across the entire galaxy? The short answer is that it can’t. This would lead to a massive variance in result, which is daunting to comprehend.
I mean, people wonder why and how the Jedi were regarded as a myth by many within 20 years. You’re talking about a thousand thousand worlds where what’s taught varies by region and planet. The planets that are under direct Imperial control will teach only a version of history favorable to the Empire.
It could explain, in fact, why people are so emotionally driven in Star Wars. Without basic reasoning being taught and basic principles passed along, a society rots. All that’s left is short-sightedness and emotional impulse.
In fact, it would have been incredibly interesting to have a story – even an aspect of the sequel trilogy – take the moment to explore this wide range of perspectives. Star Wars is supposed to teach us, the audience, and what better way than to show that people can come to different conclusions honestly? The galaxy wouldn’t be comprised just of planets, but of “bubbles” that would insulate one group from another just based on things to which they’re exposed.
An interesting idea to explore. I hope they get there someday.
Yes, the title of this blog is a reference to Tori Amos’ first band, Y Kant Tori Read. I used to be a big fan of Tori Amos. And yes, I got to see her perform Prince’s song Purple Rain in concert once, and it was amazing.