The Last Lecture
To me Dr. Pausch was not only an intelligent professor who took virtual technology and made it into something great, but also he was an inspiration. He touched the lives of many people. It is sad that a man who could teach us so much in so little time cannot be with us today.
Dr. Pausch begins his speech “The Last Lecture” by quoting something his father told him, “If there’s an elephant in the room, introduce it.” He then displays pictures of his tumors and states that life is what it is, and that “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” His next sentence is one of my favorite statements from Dr. Pausch. He states, “If I do not seem as depressed or morosed as I should be, I’m sorry to disappoint you.” This statement by Dr. Pausch really spoke to me. I love how even though he knows that he does not have long to live, he still enjoys life and does not plan on spending however long he has left depressed. Next he continues on telling the audience what all he was not going to cover. As he crossed off things such as cancer and his wife/kids, I found myself wondering, “Well what exactly IS he going to talk about then?” When he says that his topic for this lecture is his childhood dreams I wondered why he would want to do his last lecture on that?
Before he actually begins to list his childhood dreams he tells his audience of how he was looking at some old family photos and he could not find one where he was not smiling. This is something I feel we as adults should work on. Where along the way did we lose this skill of being happy all the time? If we were to all stop and think about how many times in a day we actually smiled or even laughed, some of our numbers would not be that high. One of Dr. Pausch’s childhood dreams was to play in the NFL. This dream is one of my favorites because this is the dream he did not accomplish, but may have learned the most from. Through football he was able to learn the importance of fundamentals. I relate to this dream the most since I played sports growing up and I can remember constantly hearing the coaches preaching fundamentals over everything else. I believe this to be true, and believe that it not only pertains to sports, but also to education. As a teacher I feel that if I can simply teach my students the fundamentals, their imagination will do the rest. The second story he tells about playing football as a kid is when his football coach rode him all practice about all the things he was doing wrong. He then states that the assistant coach came to him and told him that’s good, it shows that he still cares and hasn’t given up on you. As a student/player you always have a hard time when a teacher/coach is on you about something, but it is a valuable lesson we must learn. I hope that as a teacher I will always be able to stay on my students to do better and to achieve more, not to be mean, but because I care about them and their future.
Another dream that Dr. Pausch had was that he wanted to be Captain Kirk. I have never watched the show “Star Trek” but Dr. Pausch makes a statement that really struck home with me. He talks about how everyone on the ship had some form of a skill that contributed to the ship, but he could not figure out why Captain Kirk was there until one day he realized that his skill was leadership. Of all the characteristics a person can have, I believe that leadership is one of the most important. As I have stated before, sports were a crucial part of my childhood, and I believe that this may be why leadership is such a big deal for me. In the Army and ROTC we believe that being a leader is a very valuable thing. I believe that this is also true about us as teachers. We MUST be good leaders. If we fail to be the best possible leaders we can be for our students then how can we trust them to follow us and listen to what we have to say?
Now I get to what I believe to be the most important piece of advice Dr. Pausch gives us in his last lecture. Dr. Pausch presents his audience with an idea that he refers to as the “head fake”. He describes this “head fake” as basically the act of tricking students into learning something by letting them do something fun. One of the examples he uses is where his students thought they were simply making games and videos, when actually they were learning how to program and write codes. To me this is the ultimate teaching technique. I strongly agree with teachers allowing or better yet, even requiring fun projects such as group work to help students to better learn. I have even stated in my earlier blog post on how I support the idea that students learn better when they are having fun. Since I am studying to get my degree in Physical Education, this technique will go very well with my field. Often students think that P.E. is “playtime” when actually they should be learning about the muscles and organ systems that are at work while they are active. I plan to use fun games and activities in order to teach my students these things.
I learned more in Dr. Pausch's last lecture (that is only an hour and fifteen minutes long) than I did in classes that I sat in all year. He is a very inspiring person and an even better leader. Thanks to technology Dr. Pausch's legacy will live on to help others "Achieve their childhood dreams."