The Last Lecture: Randy Pausch
Randy Pausch was a prolific orator and pioneering creator who seemed to live a life of profound joy, discovery and success. Even in the face of adversity when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given a finite time to have good health, he lived every day to its fullest, and embraced his continuing passion to teach others how to live an exemplar, rewarding life.
His last lecture was poignant, but certainly not sad-he simply would not allow it. He spoke about his relationship with his students, and the adventures of discovery they all made together in the field of virtual reality. He mentioned that when he gave his first assignment, and the students turned in videos that amazed and awed him, a colleague advised him to not set the bar by letting his students know how well they did; they may become complacent, and not work harder. So he allowed the students to set the bar, by telling them that they could do better. What a great way to get students to challenge themselves, while inspiring them!
Accepted as his professional legacy, "Alice", the project he was working on at ETC was "millions of kids having fun while learning something hard". He coined this head fake learning, where learning occurs during fun, and he emphasized that he always had fun with his students. Any great teacher understands the importance of keeping learning fun and enjoyable, as much as possible. When it gets tough, he emphasized that "experience is what you get when you don't get what you want". As hard as he worked to get his terminal degree, and have bestowed upon him the many recognitions and awards he had, he understood the discipline and determination he needed to get where he had dreamed of being for so long.
Encouraging educators to let children do what they are compelled to do to learn, or showcase their interests and intellect, he spoke of a coach who always began with the fundamentals first, and the lessons he learned. It provides a foundation to build on, to improve, using higher skills. Along with a basics first approach, he emphasized that being self-reflective is a good trait, and helps us improve our teaching. He also listened readily to feedback from his colleagues and students. It is an effective way to communicate with your students about their learning and your teaching.
In his classes, he indicated that he allowed his students freedom, and they participated in project-based field trips when they could. He obviously was a model teacher, caring mentor and a man with an unrivaled passion for creation and technological invention. Many of his students were still in touch with him until the end. He showed several slides of his students, and it was obvious that they had a great time learning.