Saturday, March 2, 2013

Blog Post #7

Dr. Pausch and his family The Last Lecture: A novel by Dr. Randy Pausch

Watching and Reading

I was genuinely excited when I read the assignment for this week. This was going to be my fourth time watching The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, yet I was still excited to watch it again (even though I cry every time). When I had viewed it previously, I learned how to live my own life and thought of things I wanted to teach my own children one day. I had never thought about looking for things to use in my own classroom, which is exactly what this assignment was. I was also excited to watch it again, because since I watched it last I have gotten Randy Pausch's book about this lecture and have started to read it. I haven’t gotten very far, but the book gives a lot of insight into what he was thinking before, after and during the lecture. For instance, not even an hour before going on stage, Dr. Pausch was lying on his couch in his office sick, throwing up and in pain wondering if he would be able to even give the lecture. Also, while he was on stage right before the lecture began, he was getting his props ready and such; he also was going through deleting, editing and switching his slides around, minutes before he was to begin. The book is extremely interesting and also tear-jerking. I think that Dr. Pausch’s lecture should be taken to heart. Everything he talks about has some sort of practical lesson, whether it is something to apply to the way we live, the lessons we teach our children and students, or ways to teach. As I have said in a previous blog post, the idea of “enabling the childhood dreams of others” helped along the decision for me to become an elementary teacher.

Lessons I Learned

One of the hardest lessons I think Dr. Pausch talks about is becoming self-reflective. We need to find out how well we work with others. We must also change with the results so that we are easy to work with, because no matter what we do in life there will always be people we have to deal with. I will also remember, “When you’re screwing up and no one says anything, it means they’ve given up.” This is a lesson to look at both inwardly and outwardly. I don’t want others to give up on me, but I also don’t want to give up on others. I personally plan to put one of his “lessons” into practice with my future family. I do plan to let my kids paint their room if they so wish. I absolutely loved that his parents let him do this. I even watched the tour of his childhood room. This is a section of the book which Dr. Pausch goes into great detail about. I think it is important to allow kids to be creative and imaginative. However, it is also important to remember that he was in high school when he was allowed to paint his room; I don’t think I will give a four year old a tub of paint and let them go at it.

Lessons I Plan to Pass Along

There are many lessons Dr. Pausch talks about that can be used not only in everyday life but also in a classroom. For instance, the lesson he repeatedly mentions is the “head fake”. Kids can learn indirectly while having fun. “The best way to teach somebody something is to make them think they are learning something else.” This reminded me of Mr. Miyagi of “Karate Kid” teaching karate through other tasks. We as educators also need to remember that kids can do amazing things, we shouldn’t limit them. Dr. Pausch gives an excellent example, the first assignment he gave his class, they came back and he says they blew his mind. After talking to his mentor, Andy van Dam, he went back to his class and looked them in the eyes and said, “That was pretty good but I know you can do better.” A lot of the time we don’t know where the bar should be, and we only do students a disservice by placing it anywhere. They can be amazing; we have to help them get there.

Dr. Pausch reminds us that brick walls are there for a reason. They separate out the people who don’t want it bad enough. I think this is an important lesson to learn at an early age. There may be bumps along the road, but if you want something bad enough you may be able to work it out. We also need to remember that there is a good way and a bad way to say anything. There is a huge difference between “I don’t know!” and “Well, I don’t have much information, but I want to learn more.” Kind of like Dr. Strange’s motto: “I don’t know. Let's find out." It is helpful to think of better ways to put things, especially when dealing with children.

We also need to teach our children and students the “simple” lessons. For example, help others. Not only is it important to offer help, we must teach them that you can’t do everything alone, therefore, you must also ask for help. It seems our society is so used to taking the easy road and giving up when things get rough. Children and adults alike must remember not to give up. Instead of complaining, just work harder. It’s so easy to complain rather than do the work, and it’s a bad habit that is difficult to break. As teachers, we should help children break this habit early on. We also need to find the best in everybody, even if you have to wait for it, it is there.

Most importantly, we need to teach our kids to have fun. Perhaps we need to learn this from our kids instead. Children are the masters of fun. However, we need to teach them and remind them to have fun in everything they do. As Mary Poppins says, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun; you find the fun, and – SNAP! – the job’s a game!”


  1. Hey Katelyn. This was a great blog post. I loved how you have already watched Dr. Pausch's "Last Lecture" multiple times and still like to watch it more. I really appreciated the comments on his book also. There were some very interesting points such as what he was doing before, during, and after the lecture. My favorite part was "Lessons I Plan to Pass Along." I think that learning should be just as much fun as it is work sometimes. Learning should be enjoyable to children no matter what. Good idea about letting your child paint their own room...I wouldn't hand a four year old a paintbrush and bucket either. :)

  2. "...even though I cry every time..." And so do I!

    Very well done indeed. The book adds a lot but even without reading it the speech is extremely powerful and moving!

  3. Thank you so much, Kristen. I absolutely love the lecture and completely recommend the book! He is so inspiring.

    Thank you, Dr. Strange.