The final leg of my teaching philosophy stool is Inspire.
Inspiration comes in many forms, but when it comes to locking lessons into the brains of students, it is one of the most effective and critical methods of doing so. Connecting your content to your students in a personal way, in a way that shows the value and power of your content in a way that viscerally resonates, will make them remember it forever.
More often than not, storytelling is the most effective way of doing this. We love stories, we breathe stories, and we dream stories. We are made of stories! So of course it is the most effective way to communicate and connect.
Stories cut straight to our emotions. Putting lessons in the form of a story helps us to wrap our brains around the concepts and understand how they apply to ourselves, or how we can utilize those lessons for our own benefit.
Now, obviously, this is easier said than done, depending on what you’re trying to teach. However, whatever you teach, it’s not impossible.
I know an audio engineer who has to teach his students how signal flow works in a recording studio. It’s basically the path an audio signal takes from your vocal chords, through various pieces of highly technical equipment, until it ends up on the recording medium.
His students often struggled to remember the proper path the signal must take through the various pieces of equipment.
One night, after watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies, he was inspired to turn his lesson into a story.
The audio signal was the hero and each piece of equipment was a different land the hero had to pass through in order to get to his final destination. The student’s scores on their practical exams spiked! He said he even heard the students reciting the story out loud as they connected the equipment and successfully established a working signal flow.
He inspired his students to look at complicated things in a different way. He showed them that they are, in fact, capable of understanding complicated technical setups. He boosted their confidence in their own ability to learn. They will never forget that lesson.
In my class, on the last day, I do something I call “My Last Lecture”, which I adapted from the late Randy Pausch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo). I skew from anything directly related to the course curriculum, and share some personal words of wisdom, motivation, and inspiration, before they go off on the rest of their educational and professional journeys.
As I’ve said in previous posts, mine is the very first class all incoming undergraduate students must take, and I take that responsibility very seriously.
If they don’t leave my class learning anything from my curriculum, they will leave having learned something about life.
I found out that one of my students, who was retaking my class, recorded my last lecture on his phone.
You can’t really see the screen, but these are the three images and lessons that I show:
1) Be true to your word
2) Don’t ever demand respect – earn it!
3) Don’t ever give up!
(I may drop one or two F-bombs, but I did so for impact)