Sunday, July 27, 2008

Enabling the Dreams of Others- Randy Pausch

"All right, so what is today’s talk about then? It’s about my childhood dreams and how I have achieved them. I’ve been very fortunate that way. How I believe I’ve been able to enable the dreams of others, and to some degree, lessons learned.
I’m a professor, there should be some lessons learned and how you can use the stuff you hear today to achieve your dreams or enable the dreams of others. And as you get older, you may find that “enabling the dreams of others” thing is even more fun." From the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

When I heard words, "Enabling the dreams of others," I was amazed at how it touched me. It described part of my journey so well! I remember sitting in my office at school one day and I had read somewhere about the talk. I watched....and I was swept away with emotion. Perhaps I might be too good at the empathy thing.

The resounding message for me aligned with the "North Star" philosophy from my friend, Peter H. Reynolds at FableVision. Dreams and vision are big in the FableVision world and in mine.
This print, available at, is one example of the message I want to share with kids. How do we, as teachers, enable the dreams of our students. An interesting concept to consider.

Here are my thoughts on how we enable the dreams of others:
1- We give them creative and exciting lessons that encourage exploration and deep thoughts. I know none of the kids in my class are going to run off to be music historians. However, we spend time in sixth grade exploring music history. In part to make connections to the past, in part to learn how to find out about more things that are interesting, but mostly exploring new tools and ways of thinking.

2- We LISTEN to their dreams...We provide realistic opportunities for them to connect to the dream. Sometimes, this leads to uncomfortable talks. When I was working with struggling students in school, one of the things I asked them was, "What do you want to do after high school?" Then I would ask, "What do you REALLY want to do after high school....If there were no limits." ALWAYS a different answer. Always a disconnect between the behaviors exhibited in school and the final dream goal. That was a starting place for a conversation that would continue. No judgment, but a lot of, 'how does the path you are on get you where you want to go.'

3- Help kids to see beyond the small town dreams. There isn't anything wrong with any dream a kid has. I think it is important to not let students settle for an easily attainable dream when their potential is greater. "Dream Big" as the poster states. The trick to this is that it isn't up to us to judge who has greater potential. So, we must give kids opportunities beyond where they are and let them see what else is out there. Of course we need to encourage ALL kids and ALL dreams.

4- We must chase our own dreams...even if we don't know they are dreams yet and we must search for talent and believe in people. We need to live life to its fullest and take opportunities that are presented. If you would have told me three years ago that I would write lesson plans for new software, I wouldn't have believed it. The fact that I now call my favorite software designer, Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns or favorite author/illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds friends, is truly amazing. What made those dreams happen??? Someone believed in me. Someone saw the talent I might have to share and asked me to be a part of something great. In this case, Bill at FableVision. An absolutely amazing person who saw a spark and then believed.

5- WE act as mentors. Both to each other and to our students. We are all in this together and we must be unphased by a broken system and the oppressors of creativity and caring. We must support each other on our journeys. We must believe in ourselves and others. It is important to show appreciation to our mentors so that they know their impacts on us. We also need to 'pay it forward.' We need to take all of the belief and praise others have invested in us and provide it for the next group of leaders and dreamers.

Thank you for Randy Pausch, who inspired me greatly from afar. Thank you to Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns, who through her gentle kindness, has brought out the very best in me. Thank you to Peter H. Reynolds who has turned loose the creativity monster in inspire me more than you know. And, finally, to Bill Norris who had believed in me and launched the greatest phase of my journey so far. Thanks to my blog readers and social network followers who inspire me to write and create!

Randy Pausch passed away from Friday at the age of 47. I am a few days from being 44...I have a lot of dreams to fulfill and enable before my last day....and since I don't know when it will be, I better keep on down the path.

What do you do to enable the dreams of others?? Please comment.

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