Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blog Post #7

The Last Lecture

Wow! First of all, I was very surprised that I could listen to an entire hour and fifteen minute lecture in one sitting! Randy Pausch was a computer science professor, practically unheard of until he delivered his "Last Lecture" in September of 2007. Less than a year after this lecture on Achieving Your Childhood Dreams was given, Randy died due to complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 47 years old and left behind a beautiful wife and 3 young children. The irony of this lecture is that the title was not created for Dr. Pausch specifically. The premise for this lecture had been in place for years. Professors were asked to give a lecture on anything, and deliver it as if it were going to be their last. However, this proposition was a bit too real to Randy Pausch.

This picture is a perfect portrayal of how Randy Pausch lived his life. Your family can do incredible things too!

Randy Pausch and family in Incredibles halloween costume

When I first started listening, I was a little upset that he wasn't going to talk about his wife and children and put on a sob story. I was ready for a real emotional roller coaster. I even had tissues sitting by the computer. The message he delivers is so much more powerful, though. As Dr. Pausch exclaims at the end of his lecture, "it is not about achieving your childhood dreams, it's about how to live your life!" I truly admire the fact that he went to great lengths and took tremendous pride in helping other's achieve their dreams as well. He believed very strongly in giving students the freedom to learn. He speaks of being surprised with what his undergraduate students could do with limited tools and limited time. Yet, instead of letting the students know about his complete shock, he sets no bar for how high they will soar. I can think back on my earlier college days and wish that this same method was applied to me. If I knew exactly what was on a test, exactly what had to be included in a project, I certainly stuck to JUST that. Now, I think of EDM 310 as an example. I know the minimum of what is expected of me but I also know that won't get me the grade I'm striving for. I know that I need to put forth as much effort as I possibly can and investigate with many tools and great fervor. I'm under the assumption that I need to continually push myself and do more in order to get an "A." It's the unknown that makes me work harder. Throughout his entire lecture, it is written all over Dr. Pausch's face how much joy he gets out of his student's work. It is really apparent that he enjoys his subject matter but most importantly his students. He remembers many students by name and course, which is shocking since he stated his memory was not up to par. He truly believes teaching is a privilege.
Dr. Pausch states that "pioneering" will result in many arrows in one's back and often times what can go wrong, will. It is all worth it though for the fun and the learning. This is such a positive and contagious lesson to learn! There are so many endeavors, or simply days I have had that did not go "my way" in the least. This lecture taught me to look at the bigger picture of it all. One of the main facets of this lecture that I plan to use in my career is what a huge influence peer feedback is because it helps us to become self-reflective. While it may take time for some of us to recognize this feedback as constructive and get off the defense, once that is accomplished self reflection will be the greatest tool to success. Dr. Pausch says when you are doing something wrong and no one is there to correct you, they have given up on you. I believe this to be a very valuable lesson to all those Defensive Debbies and Dans out there. Criticism is not meant to bring us down, but rather to help us rise up and use that advice to build on our character and skills.
I also loved the photographs of his old boyhood bedroom. I must say I fully agree with granting your children freedom to express themselves at any age, in almost any way. Having said that, I am currently in a battle with my child against coloring in Sharpie on every surface in the house. I'm not exactly sure what he's trying to express though. Dr. Pausch has such a phenomenal outlook on difficult tasks. It seems as though he rarely views anything as an impossibility. In fact, Dr. Pausch even states that it is fun to do the impossible. These simple ideas are the key to making our lives and days easier to get through. If we can stop treating every mole hill as a mountain, tasks will be so much more manageable.
The aspect of this lecture I could relate most to was Dr. Pausch's idea of a "head fake." He states the most powerful way to teach someone something is to make them think they are learning something much easier. I recently experienced this for myself. At the start of this semester it would seem that I was merely setting out to learn how to become an elementary teacher and I was fired up to kick off the school year. This is just the tip on my iceberg of obstacles so far. First off, I was forced to put my child in daycare which is something we swore would never happen until preschool. The hardest lesson I am learning this term is to walk out of the classroom as my son stares up at me with the most beautiful, piercing, sad eyes. Of course I am learning how to manage my time between work, family, and school as well, and create a new budget due to the decrease in my work hours. If only I could have continued faking myself into thinking it was just about my career. That's one reason that degrees are so essential. College is not just about the classes you attend, but the life lessons you pick up and carry with you forever.
Dr. Pausch had an amazing way of captivating an audience and along the way outlined the characteristics of an amazing teacher. This is without a doubt a lecture that should be watched by anyone entering the teaching profession. He gives such vivid examples of why our educators must possess integrity, humility, perseverance, optimism, gratitude, and understanding. This message cannot be ignored!


  1. Hey Frances, Dr. Pausch was such a great speaker, teacher, leader, and learner and its amazing how he is still influencing people to this very day. I like how you said that we can do the minimum in this class but the barn has not been set for us and we have to freedom to so more and should do more. I like your take on the head fake and how just about everything we go through in life teaches us an alternative lesson whether or not we expected it. I think you did a great job posting about Dr. Paush's lecture. I read his book, "The Last Lecture",about 3 years ago and loved it. I think you would like it too!

  2. I made some mistakes that I forgot to correct before I posted that comment barn should be bar and it should read we have the freedom to do more not we have to freedom to so more. Should have proofread before I posted!

  3. Hi Frances
    I enjoyed reading your blog about Dr. Pausch. You gave great details about the information from the video which shows that you were very in tune to what he was saying.
    The passion that he had in this video was indeed moving.Reading your blog made me tear up for a second. I also have to agree with you about the head fake, sometimes if we are told you have to do something for a certain reason, we tend to try and work harder, but the real reason lies within ourselves. GREAT GREAT JOB!