VIEWSrnStar Trek or Star Wars?rnTwo Futures for American Educationrnby Mary PridernWhen I was growing up, the nuclear-war nighhnare andrnother end-of-the-world scenarios weighed heavily onrnfilmmakers’ minds. From radioactive giant lizards trashingrnTokyo to the ironic Planet of the Apes, from On the Beach to Dr.rnStrangelove, the movies made it clear that our social order wasrnon the edge of exhnchon.rnThe Terminator series was the last really popular hurrah ofrnthis genre. Unlike the earlier films, it strongly made the pointrnthat the future is not fixed. And unlike other dystopian movies,rnthe series’ real hero, John Connor, the young boy destined tornorganize humanity’s overthrow of the machines, rejoiced in anrnunconventional education. Rejecting schooling as much asrnpossible (we meet him playing hooky), the future savior learnedrnsurvival skills at his mother’s knee.rnSomewhere along the way, the public got tired of all thisrndoom and gloom. As the technology’ to make blockbuster science-rnfiction epics emerged, a more opfimistic view of the futurerngrew up with it. Today, the ho most popular science-fictionrnfranchises are the universes of Star Trek and Star Wars, whichrnalso contain the two most likely futures of education.rnStar Trek is the future as modern liberals and socialists imaginernit (not as it would be if thev actually ran it, mind you). Moneyrnas a means of exchange has been abolished in the Star Trekrnfuture—a sure giveawav of its socialist core — although evenrnMary Pride is the publisher of Pracfical Homeschooling andrneditor of The Big Book of Home Learning, now in its fourthrnedition. She and her husband Bill have nine homeschooledrnchildren, all of whom are Star Trek and Star Wars fans.rnSpock cannot explain how this works. Businessmen are evilrnand to be mocked —Quark the Ferengi gets no respect from police-rnstate privacy-invading Constable Odo, even when Quarkrnhas just saved the Deep Space Nine station. The Star Trekrn”Federafion Council” is modeled on the United Nafions, andrnin the Star Trek universe, a planet has to have a world governmentrnto have its membership application even considered byrnthe Federafion. Planetary sovereignty does not really exist—inrnfact, the plot of an enfire Star Trek novel revolves aroimd the necessity’rnof saving a known terrorist from the wrath of his planetaryrnauthorities. The authorities want to execute the terrorist,rnbut in the world of Star Trek, mass-murdering criminals getrntherapy, not pimishment.rnConsistent with socialist behavior, careerism comes first inrnthe Star Trek universe. Children, spouses, and lovers are routinelyrnabandoned by parents, spouses, and lovers in pursuit ofrnStarfleet careers. A few examples: Kirk and Carol, the lover hernimpregnated; Janeway and her ever-absent Starfleet dad; Kirkrnand his ever-absent Starfleet dad; Riker and his ever-absentrnStarfleet dad. Even poor pathetic Lieutenant Riley, Kirk’s attache,rnis left behind by his love so she can pursue Starfleet careerrnambifions.rnThe Star Wars universe, on the other hand, is organized accordingrnto classical liberal and republican principles. The conflictrnbetween the Empire and the New Republic was modeledrnon the conflict between Great Britain and America during thernWar of Independence, according to Star Wars creator CeorgernLucas. Planetary sovereignty is important in the New Republic;rnviolating it could cause other planets to secede —a constantrnSEPTEMBER 1999/13rnrnrn