Sunday, October 12, 2014


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

     In the video, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, Dr. Randy Pausch, a former professor at Carnegie Mellon, gives an inspiring final lecture about how to achieve childhood dreams. He talks about the list of childhood dreams he had and how he was given fortunate opportunities to achieve them. Dr. Strange posed the question, "What can we learn about teaching and learning from Randy Pausch?" With his lecture being so inspiring and his attitude towards life being so contagious, I can say I learned so much and was so inspired, it left me wanting more.

     In his lecture, Dr. Randy Pausch talks about how he gave his students a project-based learning assignment and they exceeded his expectations more than he could have imagined, all deserving an "A" for the rest of the year. He didn't know what other projects to give them to exceed the previous project. He seeks advice from his mentor which tells him not to set limits on his students and expect them to strive higher each time. Setting limits will be a disservice to them. This taught me not to put a cap on what my students can accomplish. I learned I must encourage them to strive beyond their comfort point. Also, I must teach them to always look at their success and evaluate it. The best gift a teacher will ever give a student is not a grade, but self-reflection. This heightens their academic success along with their personal self.
Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, The Last Lecture by Dr. Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon

     Dr. Pausch talks about making learning fun. As an educator, I must never lose the child-like characteristics inside of me. I learned that the younger someone is when he or she learns something, the longer it will stick with them. Dr. Pausch gives the example of playing sports when a child is younger. Parents put their kids into sports not to learn that particular sport, but to learn teamwork, perseverance, and sportsmanship. He calls this concept "head-fake" or indirect learning. He states "the best way to teach someone something is to have them think they are learning something else." As a future educator, I can put this into practice in my classroom. I can place my students into assigned groups, not just to finish the assignment, but to develop social and collaboration skills. Each time they leave my class, I want them to take something away from it that will follow them throughout their life.

     The most important thing I learned from Dr. Pausch's lecture is to never listen to critics. In his lecture, he talks about when he wanted to take a sabbatical from the university to go work at Disney's Imagineers, but his Dean set up a brick wall, making it difficult for him to leave. Dr. Pausch believes brick walls are put into place for a reason. He states "they let us prove how badly we want things." What I learned from this quote is when I want to introduce something new to my principal and she or he may not be for it at first, I must not give up. If I truly feel it will benefit not only my class, but the school as well, I must not get discouraged. This will also allow me to gain experience. Dr. Pausch quotes "experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." When I want to do something new and innovative that has never been done in a health education classroom, there will be critics saying no I can't and throwing arrows in my back. I must continue to strive for greatness and surround myself with positive people that encourage me. I will take this same approach towards my students. It is up to me as their teacher to show them what it is like to get excited, be happy, and proud about their accomplishments. Randy Pausch inspired many students and colleagues to attain this, but he didn't do it for them. He did it for his living legacies, his children. Enthusiasm is power! This is the best gift I will give to my students.


  1. Hey Sammi!

    I loved your blog post! There were many parts that I liked the most about your post. Here are a few of them:
    - "I can say I learned so much and was so inspired, it left me wanting more. " I can't agree more! This was a great speech to be able to have the opportunity to watch!
    - "I learned I must encourage them to strive beyond their comfort point." This is so true! Our students will be able to surpass what they perceive to be their full potential, but we have to encourage them to do so!
    - "I must continue to strive for greatness and surround myself with positive people that encourage me." This is so true! We should also teach our students this! Not only that, but to be the encouraging force in someone else's life that pushes them to do their best!

    I only have two suggestions for this blog post. First, in the Blog Post PDF it says to "Think about the teaching
    methods he advocated and used at Carnegie-Mellon." I think you did an amazing job on not getting too side-tracked with all of the other inspirational information in the video, but I think it would've been even better if you would've added an additional paragraph that focused on this aspect more. Second, there were a few very small grammatical errors that probably could have been avoided with a little bit more time on proofreading your blog post. Don't get me wrong, there are hardly any of them and probably not even noticeable to the majority of people. I just notice things super easy.

    Overall, you did an amazing job on your blog post! Good luck on the rest of your journey through EDM310, and I look forward to experiencing some of it with you in our group!

    Jennifer Cole

  2. Hey Sammi! I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I absolutely loved Randy Pausch, and I can tell you did too! I also agree that we as educators should make teaching fun and never lose the child-like side of us. I believe that is what definitely keeps us going some days as we get older. You did such a great job on your post. Just remember to break it up in paragraphs next time. Other than that, great work!

  3. This was a well written post. It reflects what you truly got from the lecture. I have to agree with you that the lecture was inspiring. I also think you did a good job reflecting on how what you learned can be used in your own classroom. Great work and good luck with the rest of the semester.