Randy Pausch's Last Lecture
To start off this video, Mr. Randy says why this is called the Last Lecture. He has been diagnosed with 10 tumors in his liver and only has 6 weeks to live. He is not in denial, but still living life exactly how he should. This lecture was not about cancer, not about things more important than your childhood dreams, and not about religion or spirituality. This lecture was about childhood dreams, enabling the dreams of others, and lessons learned—how to achieve these dreams…or was it? The idea of anything is possible is true according to Mr. Randy. His childhood dreams consisted of being in zero gravity, playing in the NFL, authoring an article in the World Encyclopedia, being captain Kirk, winning a stuffed animal, and being a Disney Imagineer.
His first childhood dream was accomplished. NASA had a ship called the Vomit Comet and his students were able to go. He thought he was going because he was the professor of these students, but later found out professors could not attend only local journalists. He turned in papers and was able to go as a journalist. His next dream as an NFL star was not accomplished. Although this was not accomplished he learned more from playing football than he did anything. I can relate to this because I played a lot of sports. He was 9 years old when he started playing and he was the smallest kid in the league. He was taught fundamentals as well as learning what caring was. He was constantly nagged on by the coach and later found out when they’re nagging they care, when they stop nagging, they stop caring. I find this to be true as well. All through sports my coaches would get mad at me and I would go home upset. My dad always told me as long as they are getting mad they still care and haven’t given up. When you learn something young enough it becomes a part of you. He had an important quote in his lecture that I find to be true myself; “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted”. Another important thing he learned from his experience of playing football was the “Head Fake”. This is when you think you’re doing something, but you’re actually learning something more important and better for you. His third dream came true as well. He wrote a virtual article for the World Encyclopedia. As for his fourth dream, he didn’t become Captain Kirk, but he did meet Captain Kirk. One major thing he learned from Captain Kirk was leadership. James T. Kirk wrote a book called Science of Star Trec and from that Mr. Randy was able to build a virtual lab. His fifth dream was to win stuffed animals from theme parks. He won a bunch of these animals and showed pictures to prove. With today’s technology and cynicism he had to actually bring the stuffed animals in person to really prove he had accomplished this dream. As for his final dream, he found out about Disney’s top secret virtual reality Imagineering about Aladin. He talked to Mr. Jon Snoody for 80 hours about Virtual Reality and convinced him he really knew what he was talking about. One thing he learned from Mr. Snoody was that when you give people a chance they will really impress you. I love this because it is so true. When you really hate someone and they do everything in the world to make you mad, one day, whether it is 5 or 10 years, they will impress you.
While everything was going right for Mr. Randy, there was one bad person to try and ruin it all. He was the Dean of the University of Virginia and he called him “Dean Wormer”. He basically told him he couldn’t do what he wanted and Mr. Randy took it to the Dean of Research. While the Dean of Research told Mr. Randy the same things, he said it very differently and with the way he answered Mr. Randy had hope again. Building this Virtual Reality of Aladin at Disney World changed him forever. He said he believes it’s about a one in 5 year chance of doing this and when asked if he would be a REAL Imagineer he said no. He went on with his career as a professor and started a course called Building Virtual Reality. This course consisted of 50 people, 4 people to a team, 5 projects which lasted 2 weeks, and new teams for every new project. He invited people from every department and the virtual reality’s these students created amazed him. He taught the course for 10 years. When he had to give it up he decided it needed to go to someone better then he was. He said when you love something so much pass it on to someone better than you.
He then talks about the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and gives most of his credit to a man named Don. It required a 2 year masters, but was not like any other masters. There were no books and it was all projects. While the students were at internships, the companies guaranteed these students jobs from this school. The Alice project is then talked about and this is about millions of kids learning something hard while having fun; this is being a true educator.
As for the lesson learned of his lecture, many people he has to thank. First he talks about how great his parents were, full of life. His dad fought in WWII and won a bronze star for valor award, but no one knew, including his wife of 50 years, until his death. His mom was there for him through things like school. While he took the Theory Qualifier, he believes it was the second worse thing after chemo. He would come home and complain about this and his mother’s response was “we know how you feel, when your father was your age he was fighting the Germans”. His parents let him do things like paint his room and he suggested anyone who has kids who want to paint their room, let them. I can relate to this because 5th grade through high-school I painted my room about four different times. My parents knew it didn’t matter in the long run so what will it hurt? Others that helped him with lessons learned were his teachers, mentors, friends, and colleagues. Andy Van Dam, being one of his mentors, told him he never understood why people perceived him as arrogant and this wasn’t good because it would limit him on what he does. Mr. Andy talked him into going to grad school and becoming a teacher. He told him he was a great salesman and what’s better to sale then education? I think this is great because I myself am a great salesperson and I hope this will help with my career as an educator. While Mr. Randy was not accepted to Carnegie Mellon grad-school, he was basically giving up and going straight to work. He talked with Mr. Andy and with connections he was able to get in. He believes loyalty is a two way street as well as Karma.
This lecture overall was great words of wisdom with so many knowledgeable facts that will remain with me throughout my career as an educator. He makes sure to point out that you should always get a feedback loop and listen to it. Show gratitude and don’t complain just work harder. Always be good at something because that shows you’re valuable and find the best in everybody. Always be prepared for anything and the greatest part of this whole lecture was the “head fake”: lead your life. This was not about the three things he originally said, childhood dreams, enabling dreams of others, and lessons learned, it was about leading your life.