Randy Pausch's last lecture "Achieving the Childhood Dream" embraces the idea of maximizing the creative potential of all kids. I love how he says that he learned that the bar can never be set too high. When you do set a bar, you're assuming how far the kids can go. If you don't really know for sure how much they can do and you set it too low, they will never be able to reach their full potential. Another thing he emphasizes is to never give up on your dreams. Brick walls are placed in front of you not to keep you from your achievements, but to see who will be willing to work hard enough to overcome all of the obstacles placed before them.
I have to admit that I was fascinated by Dr. Pausch's lecture. The biggest, or at least what I believe to be the most important thing that I learned from him, is that the only boundaries you have are the ones that you set for yourself. Yes, there are going to be road blocks along the way and people are going to tell you no, or that you can't do it. However, we have to remember that other people aren't the ones guiding our path. If one way doesn't work, there's always a second option. You just have to be willing to find it. Even sometimes when our dreams don't work out exactly the way that we planned them to, such as Dr. Pausch not being able to play in the NFL, the lessons that we learn along the way and can pass on to others are well worth the journey.
As an educator, I know that my job is not to limit my students, but rather to give them all the tools that they need so that they are ready for any challenges that they may face. Dr. Pausch helped me to realize that the language I use is a big factor in their success as well. Saying "I don't know" to a student versus saying "I don't know, tell me more" can make all the difference. Just because I don't know how to do something or how to help them get started doesn't mean I can't encourage them to pursue it and help them to get the connections they need so that they can move in the right direction. When I teach, I plan to encourage all my students and give them helpful advice rather than tell them I can't help and blow it off. Sometimes that little extra push can be the difference in whether they choose to pursue their dreams or not.
Dr. Pausch made some revolutionary changes at Carnegie-Mellon. Not only did he help to make a new program where kids could create amazing projects that were devised completely from their own instruction, but by sharing it with the rest of the school; he allowed fellow students, parents, and teachers alike to get a taste of the amazing things that creativity and imagination can produce. In my classroom, the students will be able to venture down the paths of their mind that they didn't even know they had. I won't set a bar, because letting them do projects where there are no guidelines forces them to think and use their own creative judgement. It's easy to follow a set of instructions and do homework or a project. However, it's not so easy to create something when there are endless ways to complete the task. It's not the end result that's so important, but rather finding the path to get there and knowing how to do that in all aspects of life that makes the ride worthwhile.