The Last Lecture
When I saw that we were required to watch this lecture and write a blog post on it, I got extremely excited. I've seen bits and pieces of this lecture and even bought the book, which I never got completely through (gotta love school and work taking over your life). I've been meaning and wanting to sit down and watch this video, but had trouble finding the time; this assignment gave me the perfect opportunity. And I'm glad.
Randy Pausch is an inspirational man and his lecture proves it. Near the beginning of his lecture he says "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand" and it's true. As a teacher you aren't able to pick and choose your students and how they act. You can't and won't have a class full of geniuses and students who actually want to learn. It's not possible. However, you can take what you get and work with it. You can take the students who have trouble with certain materials and help them learn it. You can take the students who despise school and who would rather be out back smoking a cigarette and help them realize learning is important and CAN be fun. As a teacher, you have to take a group of students, the cards you're dealt, and mold them into capable members of society who can think on their own and teach themselves and teach others.
Pausch also said "You have to get the fundamentals down, or the fancy stuff won't work." Isn't this how learning works? In math, for example, you start with learning numbers, then move to simple addition, then to simple subtraction, simple multiplication, simple division, then on to more complicated things like using the FOIL method and the quadratic equation and so on. And it's the teachers' job to ensure that students get these fundamentals and commit them not only to short term spit-it-out-on-a-test memory, but to long term I-understand-the-concept memory. Like I stated in the previous blog post, teachers need to change their teaching methods and need to teach their students not a set of instructions, but a set of ideas, methods, concepts that they can use throughout their life (and therefore will always remember).
Now, as a current student studying to become a teacher, I know there are going to be times while I'm new to the field that I'm going to become frustrated and dejected and feel that I'm not doing things right; that I'm not doing everything in my power to teach my students the material and lessons they will keep with them forever. After watching this video, though, I now have one simple sentence to keep me going and keep my spirits up: "Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." I'm not always going to get through to students and help them see the importance of literature and good grammar, but I have to remember that I can learn from the experience and use what I learn on the next group of students I'm fortunate enough to have in my classroom. By my standards, I'm not always going to succeed, but that doesn't mean I failed either and I have to remember that, as does every other teacher.