May 2nd, 2017 by Toria Rainey
That’s the tenet that sparked #TeachMeYouDid, a Star Wars-influenced social campaign that helps celebrate the Yodas in our lives—the mentors and teachers who went above and beyond to take us from students to masters. Everyone can participate in this initiative by simply posting to social media on May 4th, think of your very own Jedi master—a mentor, teacher, or anyone who “awakened the force” inside of you—then share a post on social media with the hashtag #TeachMeYouDid and explain how this mentor inspired you and/or contributed to your personal or professional growth.
What makes this campaign extraordinary, though, is the way it galvanizes the passionate Star Wars fan base to participate in civic and political engagement.
The brainchild of activist and innovator Andrew Slack, the campaign first started in 2016 as a marriage between International Star Wars Day (“May the 4th” be with you) and National Teacher Appreciation Week. Last year, people everywhere—from YouTube stars to Civil Rights Activists—got involved by sharing their stories about those who inspired them.
Teachers awaken within us the possibility to better understand the world around us and our roles within it, and that’s what Slack means by “the force.” According to Slack, the force is “the larger ethos of the universe, this notion of interconnectivity linked with the mystic and the mythological.” It’s inspiration, admiration, support, and love, all wrapped up into one. It’s not something you inherently understand—you need to be taught by those who’ve mastered it. So, when we publicly thank our teachers by telling our stories and by expressing our gratitude, we’re showing the world what matters most.
It’s not just our personal stories that allow for a campaign like #TeachMeYouDid to be successful, however—stories like those in Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games, to name a few, are forward-thinking tools for enacting social change. “Stories really help us,” Slack explains. “They are mirrors to who we are and they help us see the things behind us that we wouldn’t see otherwise.” By seeing ourselves reflected in the Luke Skywalkers, the Harry Potters, and the Katniss Everdeens, we’re seeing the Yodas, the Dumbledores, and the Haymitch Abernathys in our own lives—those who stand behind us to propel us forward.
In our world today, it can be difficult to find avenues to catalyze societal change, especially in the realm of the American education system, but that is exactly what the folks at Imagine Better, a network-based organization led by Slack, aim to do through #TeachMeYouDid. “We’re elevating dialogue around what public schools need and what they need to be,” says an impassioned Slack. “It’s not just a call to arms for gratitude, it’s a call to arms to hold each other up, to say we need to do better, we can do better, we will imagine better.”
Cover Photo credits: Aaron Burden