Reflections on a “teaching philosophy” from a true inspiration


In recent reading regarding managing academics, I came across an inspiring statement regarding the philosphy of teaching in a statement by Dr. Randy Pausch in his book – The Last Lecture:

“I’d compare paying college tuition to paying for a personal trainer at an athletic club. We professors play the roles of trainers, giving people access to the equipment (books, labs, and our expertise) and after that, it is our job to be demanding. We need to make sure our students are exerting themselves. We need to praise them when they deserve it and to tell them honestly when they have it in them to work harder. Most importantly, we need to let them know how to judge for themselves how they are coming along. The great thing about working out at a gym is that if you put in the effort, you get obvious results. The same should be true of college. A professor’s job is to teach students how to see their minds growing in the same way they can see their muscles grow when they look in a mirror.”

Dr. Randy Pausch, was a charismatic young college professor who chronicled his battle with pancreatic cancer in a remarkable speech widely-known as the “Last Lecture,” He died at the age of 47.

Dr. Pausch concluded his lecture with words of wisdom from his lessons learned, summarized as follows:

  • Loyalty is a two-way street.

  • Never give up.

  • You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest. I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term.

  • Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.

  • Get a feedback loop and listen to it. … Anybody can get chewed out. It’s the rare person who says, oh my god, you were right. … When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.

  • Show gratitude.

  • Don’t complain. Just work harder.

  • Be good at something, it makes you valuable.

  • Work hard.

  • Find the best in everybody. … No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side; just keep waiting, it will come out.

  • And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.

SOURCE: Pausch R Summary of the Adventure Accessed October 7, 2015 Available at

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