Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blog Post #8

What Can We Learn About Teaching and Learning From Randy Pausch?

Randy Pausch at his Last Lecture
Randy was a Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. In this video, Randy Pausch's Last Lecture, he discussed many aspects of his life including:

  • His Childhood Dreams
  • Enabling the Dreams of Others
  • Lessons Learned: How You Can Achieve Your Dreams or Enable the Dreams of Others
As I walk through Randy's lecture, I will be be relating what Randy believes as well as how I am applying it to my future career as both a teacher and a learner. As a child, Randy was always smiling. He did a great deal of dreaming. No matter what, we should never lose the passion for dreaming; furthermore, having specific dreams is important. 

His Childhood Dreams:
  • Being in zero gravity
  • Playing in the NFL
  • Authoring an article in the World Book encyclopedia
  • Being Captain Kirk
  • Winning stuffed animals
  • Being a Disney Imagineer

Zero Gravity:
All of Randy's dreams were quite specific dreams, but this one was very specific. He didn't want to be an astronaut. He just wanted to have the feeling of weightlessness. In this dream, he encountered several brick walls, but he pushed right past them. 

Football on fieldIn not achieving this dream, Randy learned more than he would have had he accomplished it. This dream taught him fundamentals. If you don't have fundamentals, nothing else you try to build will work. He also learned that it's a good thing to be criticized by those who are trying to teach you. When you screw up and no one is saying anything anymore, that person has given up on you. Critics still show that someone cares. When you are messing up and no one notices, you're in a bad place. He also realized that when you do something young enough, it becomes a part of you. If we can instill good educational habits and new ways of learning in our children from young ages, it will become part of them. Randy says, "Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." In terms of learning in general, we tend to learn things indirectly. The "head fake" is when we teach and learn things in this indirect method. We may be having fun doing a project, but all the while, we are learning hard skills. People learn best if they think they're learning something else, such as learning teamwork skills through football. We all tend to enjoy learning hard things if we are having fun while doing it. We send our kids to play sports in order to learn more important skills, but we should be teaching our students in ways that instill these same skills as well as necessary 21st century skills. 

Being Captain Kirk:
Dreaming of one day meeting Captain Kirk actually turned into Meeting Captain Kirk. Randy did not get to meet him as a child but met him as an adult. As Randy thought about why he had so greatly looked up to this man, he was perplexed. Captain Kirk was not the smartest guy on the ship. There were others with much more obviously skill sets that he, but out of all the people surrounding Captain Kirk, he was the leader. Leadership is key in both teaching and learning. We are leaders of our own learning, whether we are designated a student or a teacher. As future teachers, we will be the obvious leaders, but we must instill in our students great senses of leadership.

Being an Imagineer:

Walt Disney Imagineering LogoRandy was rejected from the job of becoming an Imagineer for Disney. He met huge brick walls, but brick walls appear for a reason. They are not there to keep us from the goal we are pursuing. They are there to see how badly we will work for our goals and how badly we want them. They're there to keep those who are not willing to work hard or dream big enough out. Randy did actually get an opportunity to work with the Imagineers on a virtual reality project where he met a man who gave him some great advice. This man said, "Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you." You must give people time. We must give our students time. Two people can say the same thing to someone, but it's all about how they say it. We are to be encouragers at all times. No matter what is being said, typically there is some encouraging way to say it. When people are negative, we realize that some brick walls that we encounter are unfortunately made of flesh. This project brought together artists and engineers. We must learn to do this in classrooms. It is our job to be guides in collaboration, and collaboration cannot be limited to people who are molded from the same clay. People from all sorts of backgrounds with various personalities need to be taught to collaborate and compromise with one another. 

Thoughts From Me:
Our dreams can teach a lot, especially when we don't realize it. Skills we would not have ever thought of learning can be wrapped up in our dreams. As education moves forward, we should be teaching and learning through our passions. Passion keeps everything exciting, engaging, and fun. Each child will be so much more interested in furthering their life if we can only make each and every education personal. This was my group's topic in our Video Book Conversation, and I am a firm believer that passion-based education is the best way to develop any child's interest. It's not just about learning through passion. We should teach through passion. Our passion should be to seek to better our students and understand each of their needs. Randy Pausch's video has only reiterated by belief in this. 

Enabling the Childhood Dreams of Others:

There is no better place to enable the dreams of others than being a teacher. We encourage dreams, and we teach skills that will help others throughout their entire lives. No matter how good the work we receive from our students, we should always encourage them to do better work. Even if we are blown away by the work, obviously we must be behind on something. They were able to achieve something that we couldn't fathom them doing, so we must start dreaming bigger dreams for our students. Never do we want to discourage a student from doing something bigger and better. Freedom is essential to have true, innovative project based learning. People will ignore feedback or they will take it. Either way, we must instill self-reflection.
All of these things Randy experienced for himself and imparted his wisdom on to us through this video. All of those things were about students learning, but he also had plenty experience on teaching. If you're going to do anything that is remotely pioneering in any field, you're going wind up with arrows in your back from someone. We cannot let those discourage us. We also must learning to deal with coworkers, amazing or terrible. We can never forget the importance of giving credit where credit is due. Randy deserves so much credit and admiration for these lessons and they way he lived his life. Everyday of his life was fun. He poses the question, "Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore?" He most definitely was a Tigger.

Tigger bouncing on his tail
Lessons Learned: 
Randy lists some lessons at the end of the lecture that we should all learn. These are not about just teaching and learning, but they are about living life in general
  • Never Lose the Child-like Wonders
  • Help Others
  • Loyalty Is a Two-Way Street
  • Never Give Up
  • There Are Moments That Change Your Life
  • How to Get People to Help You: Tell the Truth, Be Earnest, Apologize, Focus on Others
  • Get a Feedback Loop and Listen to It
  • Show Gratitude
  • Don't Complain; Just Work Harder
  • Find the Best in Everybody, Even If You Have to Wait a Long Time
  • Be Prepared

All in all, education is not a job. It's a lifestyle. This whole lecture was not just about his life or the lessons we can learn from it. It was not about how to achieve your dreams, how to teach, or how to learn. This lesson was truly about how you live our own lives each day. 

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post!! I think watching this video was one of my favorite assignments when I took the class. I learned a lot from it.