I was listening to Chris Ryan and Sean Fenessey on The Watch podcast as the were talking about the Disney+ series The Mandalorian and of course it gets me thinking about lesson planning . My boys and I loved the Mandolorian which is set in the Star Wars universe but only tangentially connected to the Original Trilogy storyline. The show has a lot of great things going for it including a cool looking main character, a Samuri/Spaghetti Western vibe, funny dialogue, and some badass side characters. (On a side note the show runner John Favreau gets a lot of points for having a female warrior, Cara Dune, that is both physically believable and dressed in appropriate battle attire) Oh… And the show has Baby Yoda.
What the podcast hosts were talking about was the difference between the Mandalorian series and the latest Star Wars trilogy (The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker). Essentially they suggested that the Mandalorian felt much more organized and had consistent throughlines even though there were different directors that played with different genres and tropes. The trilogy felt slapdash with each film telling different stories and treating the characters very differently.
What is the reason for these difference? Well, Ryan and Fenessey suggest that the Mandalorian, partially because it had a single show runner, started with the end of the season in mind. This allowed each of the other players (directors, actors, puppeteers) to plan accordingly. In comparison, the Rise of Skywalker spent alot of time rleither reversing or retconning a lot of what was suggested in The Last Jedi because the director, JJ Abrams, had his own ending in mind which differed from the ending The Last Jedi’s director Rian Johnson envisioned. The result was an unsatisfying and confusing mess.
Teaching really needs to be more Mandalorian than Rise of Skywalker. When setting up curriculum we really need to start with the end in mind. It doesn’t have to be perfectly planned out. Student differentiation, interesting tangential inquiries, reteaching, and creativity all factor into on the fly changes but we need to have a target in mind when teaching.
Teaching has to be intentional.