Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blog Post #8 - What can we learn about teaching and learning from Randy Pausch?

There is a lot that can be learned from Randy Pausch's Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. It can be applied to many aspects of life, but much of it can be applied to teaching and learning.

Although it is not directly related to question, "What can we learn about teaching and learning from Randy Pausch," there is one thing about him I think is important to mention. He is very positive. I feel that is an important attribute of anyone, especially an educator.

positivty pass it on
Link to photo source: Channeled Essence

Much of what he said in this video can be used in teaching. One thing I noticed about him was that he was great with keeping the audience's attention. He was energetic, spoke in a modulated tone, was expressive, incorporated visuals and stories that were interesting and relevant. Another important lesson teachers can learn from this video is to "wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you" just "give them enough time." Every student has a strong point, you just have to find it.

A skill that is useful in every day life and with teaching. It is a lesson in being tactful. There is always a good way and a bad way to say things, like in the case when he was talking to his bosses trying to get his sabbatical. The two bosses said the same thing, one just said it in a much better way. Another important thing to remember is to desire to help people achieve childhood dreams. My degree will have me working with children, so it will not be to help them achieve those dreams but to set them on the right path to achieve them.

a girl holding a sign saying we all have dreams
Link to photo source: Favim

He also made a good point in telling a story about his students. He said to not set a bar, let them show you how high they can achieve. If you set an expectation they might meet it, but you will never truly be able to see what they are capable of. Also, it is important to take things farther than just your one classroom. A good example of this is when the ETC program he was working on started to go global or just when he was able to get a large group of people to come see students show their work.

Another thing he did that was important as both a speaker and an educator was that he was able to take a topic I knew nothing about and he did not lose my attention nor did he make me wonder, "what is he talking about." He also stressed that educators should learn from their students.
One thing that was important to him was to know the importance of fun. He explained this by saying, "decide if you are a Tigger or an Eeyore." Finally, we should "never lose the child-like wonder."

a picture of tigger and eeyore
Link to photo source: NSC Blog

We can take away from this video for learning as well. One important this he did was to aspire. He had goals and dreams that he set forth and was dead set on achieving them. The ones he did not achieve he used as learning experiences.

Some of what he said could also be applied to both learning and teaching. Like with football for him, he said, "if you do something young enough and you train for it, it becomes a part of you." This can be important for teaching to instill this in students. It can also be important for students to find something they can apply this to."Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." This can also be applied to both. When you expect something to go one way as a teacher and it does not, then you have gained experience. Also this can be applied to students. An example of this is if a student does not get the grade they wanted it teaches them to change something in their study habits or just study all together.

experience straight ahead
Link to photo source: Bently Master Minds

He viewed the "brick walls" in his stories as opportunities to try harder or in a different manner. They are there "to give us a chance to show how badly we want something." This can be applied to everything, teaching and leaning included. He said, "you can't get there alone." You have to get help from other people. This is important for everyone to remember. It is always okay to ask for help if you need it. The last thing is "dont complain; just work harder." Things will not get easier if you moan about it.

randy pausch wrote a book on living while dying
Link to photo source:


  1. Katie, this was a great blog post. It was very well written and covered the material in the video. I really enjoyed his explanation about the brick walls. Everyone meets these "brick walls" in their life in one way or another. You can't let these brick walls affect what you want in life. You just need to get up and try again. Great post! Keep up the good work!

  2. I agree that it is very important to )e willing to learn from your students. In my classroom we have a saying : We are all teachers and we are all learners. (I am just the tallest learner.)

  3. I agree with you and this was a great blog post. Randy Pausch was a great man andvery motivated to teach. I hope that I can be as good of a teacher as him.

  4. "...and he did not loose my attention…" AND "we should "never loose the child-like wonder."" lose, not loose

    Thoughtful. Thorough. Well done.