Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blog #10

What Can Be Learned About Teaching and Learning From Randy Pausch? By Ronald Griffin

My first taste of Randy Pausch came from a lecture he did entitled "Randy Pausch's Last Lecture". It didn't take long before I realized what a great communicator he was. Randy was able to methodically weave humor and visual aids into a great learning experience in this lecture. The lecture was packed with amazing insight on teaching and learning. Although there are many great points Randy makes, I would like to highlight three elements he talked about pertaining to teaching and learning.

The first element is enabling others' dreams. Randy talks a lot about his childhood dreams in the video and puts heavy emphasis on the importance of having childhood dreams. Childhood dreams are goals one has when young, and can serve as great motivation to attain the things one wants in life. So, what can be learned about teaching and learning from childhood dreams? As it turns out, a great deal. Teachers can be facilitators of their students' dreams. Instilling qualities in students that help them succeed is enabling their childhood dreams. For example, if a student has the childhood dream of becoming a successful scientist that breaks barriers in biological research, the student can't do it alone. The process starts with his science teachers in school. They can enable him to accomplish that dream by being the best educators possible, and by giving him a solid foundation in science. Being the best educator possible to equip students with the skills they need requires constant dedication, hard work and learning from the teachers themselves. There are always going to be things that make it difficult, but perseverance pays off.

The next element I would like to write about is "The Brick Wall". Randy talked about a brick wall as something that will stand in the way of accomplishing dreams. He stressed how important the concept of a brick wall can be to one's life. He said a brick wall will show how badly someone wants something, and the ones who don't want it bad enough will give up and let the wall win.
brick wall
Conversely, those who want it bad enough will be able to fight through the wall to get what they want. Teachers must fight through these "Brick Walls" to ensure students are getting the best education / opportunities available. An example of this would be attitude. Lets say a student has a horrible attitude at the beginning of the semester, and it seems fairly obvious it is effecting his grade negatively. The teacher approaches the student about the problem and the student blows off the teacher with more attitude. This process repeats itself several times, forming a brick wall to the teacher. The stage is now set to see how bad the teacher wants to be an educator. Does the teacher give up, or does the teacher break down the brick wall? At this point the teacher has to be a learner. The teacher must learn how to correctly communicate with the student, so that the student can be successful in the classroom. Talking with former teachers or the student's family is a starting place. The success of students in the classroom doesn't solely fall on the teacher, but a large part does. Randy also talk about a great way to foster student success.

The final element I would like to highlight from the lecture is "The Head Fake". Randy talks about the head fake being an important tactic to get students to learn. Essentially, the head fake is creating a learning process for students that is fun enough to hold their attention, but also get necessary learning material accomplished. Randy used a great example of something he used in the past. He said he would have students doing projects on video game programming. Since many students are very interested in video games it held their attention very well. On the flip side, students were learning about computer programming. I think that is such a great concept that is very underused, but it can be a great learning point. If teachers can use this tactic in the classroom, more students may be reached and ultimately more dreams can be accomplished.

Ultimately, Randy Pausch was a great teacher and in being a great teacher many things about teaching and learning can be learned from him. Being a childhood dream enabler for students, fighting through any educational brick walls that appear and using head fake tactics can lead to quality education. I genuinely felt like just by watching that one lecture from Randy I have a higher upside as a future educator. Randy deposited major coin into my knowledge bank that I will take with me into my future teaching career.

Randy Pausch head shot

1 comment:

  1. Ronald~
    You did a good job describing the major points of the lecture. You have a very interesting writing style and technique. I really appreciated your application of Mr. Pausch's ideas into imagined scenarios--I think that indicates how relevant his last lecture is to pedagogy and to learning.
    Thank you for sharing!