“The Last Lecture” — Help People

As part of our unit on The Value of Life, my elective class called Contemporary Studies watched Randy Pausch’s lecture called “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” Knowing he was dying of liver cancer, Pausch delivered a funny, moving, and inspirational talk on how to live a good life in which he described some highlights of his journey as a family man, a student and a professor. The best-selling book he published called The Last Lecture expands on the stories and lessons of his 75-minute speech. 

Pausch’s lecture contains so many meaningful lessons, but the one message that most resonated with me on this viewing was HELP PEOPLE. That’s a given in an educator’s job description, but it also describes an attitude for anyone in any profession or any role, including student. We can learn so much from connecting with others without expectation of personal gain. The beautiful irony is that, with that mindset, we often get back more than we give. Pausch calls that a “head fake” or indirect learning, where in the doing of a fun task we learn something difficult. My own beloved father Angelo Ozoa preached that lesson and lived it, as a doctor and community leader whose legacy includes an annual medical mission to needy areas in the Philippines. So go do what Randy and Angelo said — help people!


The Opposite of “Play” is Depression


Photo source: sierrasourcemedia.com

Play – its opposite isn’t “work” but “depression.” I heard this in a TED Hour story on  NPR called “How Does Play Shape Our Development?”. Among other findings, Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, learned in his studies of the lives of murderers that they all lacked play in childhood. In interviews of thousands of people to catalog their relationships with play, Brown noted a strong correlation between playful activity and success. Play in both children and adults lights up activity in the frontal lobe, creating connections that help in problem-solving and risk-taking.

I also read a story today that “Science Suggests a Relationship Between Geekiness and Happiness.”  Recently, in February, educators around the world celebrated Global School Play Day. In American society, we understand that the “work” of childhood is primarily to play.

Yet a school on Long Island NY cancelled its annual kindergarten show so kids could keep working to become “college and career ready.” Given all these finding and reactions to standardized testing, perhaps it’s time educators insist on spending more time on what research shows is best for children and less time on excessive testing and test prep. It’s downright depressing.


Sing Strum Smile

This is my Ibanez bass guitar I got for my birthday a few years ago. She lives in our “home studio” populated by my husband’s and son’s electric and acoustic-electric guitars, mics, mixer, sitar, guzheng, amps, and recording stuff I don’t understand. That’s my concertina behind and to the left, though. We jammed some tonight and my poor, tender fingertips suffered. But I’d forgotten how fun it is to make music together! I need to resume the habit to build up those calluses again. Depending on the research, it takes either 21 or 66 days to form a habit. So I’m looking at summertime. Stay tuned!

The Importance of Being Empathetic


My Brit Lit juniors just finished studying  The Importance of Being Earnest, hence, this  post’s title. I participated in two stimulating Twitter EdTech chats yesterday where empathy emerged as a key element in student engagement, problem solving, and the design thinking process. I love the diagram above as a reminder for how to approach so many issues in life.

Empathy also came up during my journey home from visiting my mom in Fremont. The news that my flight was delayed an hour made me grumpy. Seeing five people in wheelchairs at my gate and assuming they would all take a long time to board made me grumpier, I’m ashamed to admit. Then I observed them more closely. All were elderly; most were cheerful; several appeared to be traveling together. I thought about how my frail mom refuses to travel by air any more and reflected on how wonderful and spunky these wheelchair travelers were. I want to be them when I grow up. I empathize.

You Are What You “Eat”


             As the picture suggests, “you are what you eat” is an apt metaphor for how we feed our characters as well as our bodies. I often caution my students that the can easily become what they “consume” on social media. An extreme diet of fail videos (mostly hapless skateboarders) can foster mockery and diminish sympathy. Or obsessing about skinny girls’ Instagram photos can create unrealistic body image expectations. On the other hand, baby animal images can stimulate endorphins and inspirational sayings can promote optimism.

             What do you “eat” regularly? I hope it’s varied, balanced, and healthy. 😉