What is the "head fake" teaching method espoused by Randy Pausch? He explains with humorous enthusiasm in his last lecture entitled Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. His last because unfortunately Pausch died of pancreatic cancer in July of 2008 at a young 47. This "last" lecture was given September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University where he was a professor of computer science. Although he spins a wonderful tale of how-I-got-to-where-I-am, his final comments give away the head fake. And you will have to listen to find out.
The one piece of advice Pausch shared that resonated with me was brick walls are there to show us our dedication to our childhood dreams. In other words, just how much do you want that dream. In each of the six childhood dreams Pausch spoke about, he described the brick walls he ran into trying to accomplish them and how he got around those brick walls. My favorite was how his dream changed from being Captain Kirk to meeting Captain Kirk. If you hang in there, it is amazing how your dreams will come true, albeit in ways you cannot first imagine.
To give students free reign to create while teaching them something worth knowing takes one very special characteristic that Pausch exemplified. You have to want to share what you know, and be open to what may happen, like the student who used a pretty cheesy stunt to "apologize" for his virtual world project crashing. Pausch's delight in relating this story touched me. Perhaps to me his best legacy. He loved being a mentor to his students. His belief that if you do good things, good things come back around to you influenced his students to bust through their brick walls.
As an educator, I want my students to want to learn. It is my deeply held belief that my job is to point them in the right direction and then stand back and see what they can accomplish. Pausch's last lecture can be a virtual mentor for me since he obviously walked that talk.