Today, I have watched and listened to a lecture that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture has brought to me a new sense of how I want to create my legacy. It made me think about how I should live my life and what I should leave behind. He has also made me aware of how people can mold and shape us in to who we become and the importance of our influence we have on our students as an educator. He cleverly presented his life and lessons that he has learned through the years. These are things that I want to apply to my life and keep in mind as I start my career as an educator, but most importantly as a wife and mother.
Pausch makes it clear at the beginning of his lecture that he is not there to talk about his wife, children, religion and cancer. He does go ahead and clear the air in letting everyone know that he is dying with pancreatic cancer. The funny thing is, he doesn’t go on to talk about how he is dying, but he wants to be sure to convey that he is living. What an inspiration! He has a great personality and holds your attention throughout his lecture. He outlines his lecture in that he will talk about his childhood dreams, how to enable the dreams of others, and lessons he has learned along the way. He also wants us to understand the concept of “head fake”. I find this interesting. He then goes on to tell of some dreams that he had as a child, like floating at zero gravity, being published in the World Book Encyclopedia, meeting Captain Kirk, and becoming a Disney Imagineer. He accomplished all of these things. He didn’t do it by sitting back and being lazy; he did have to get through a few brick walls. According to Pausch, brick walls are what give us a chance to prove that we want something. I can certainly attest to this.
Hearing him speak about what it means to be an educator was encouraging. I have often thought of these things myself. It makes me feel better in knowing that I am on the right track. Being an enabler of students achieving their dreams should be our goal. He warns us to be careful where we set the bar. We should always expect our students to do better because we may not know where the standard should be. I personally like this point the best. With my own children, my husband and I always push for our children to do better. If we settle, then we are saying to them that it is okay for them to be average. We want them to be the best that they can be. Pausch also says that we should show kids what it feels like to give other people a chance to see what it feels like to be happy and excited about something. He demonstrated this in his class at MIT when he allowed the students to work in groups and create virtual worlds and present them to their peers as a show.
He then goes on to talk about some people that have touched his life and have helped him get to where he is today. He clearly loves and appreciates his parents, wife, and mentors. He gives them full credit for where he is today. Andy van Dam, his mentor, encouraged him to go to graduate school. Without him, he probably wouldn’t have done it and just got a job. What an awesome professor his students would have missed out on. Van Dam told him that he was good at selling things and that he should be selling education. With that, he went on to become a great professor. A student that left a great impression on him was Dr. Caitlyn Keller. She helped him with his Alice project. Alice is basically a gaming system in which children write stories when in fact, they are creating new computer software. She made it clear to him that this was his best “head fake”; getting children to play when they are actually working. Pausch says that Alice is his legacy in that millions of kids are having fun while learning something hard.
Finally, some important lessons that he learned: Tell the truth, be earnest, apologize when you screw up and focus on others, not yourself. These are definitely food for thought. These are attributes that I am trying to instill in my children. He wants us to remember that brick walls help show our dedication and to not get discouraged when we run into them, because we will run into them. We should also get a feedback loop and listen to it. By getting feedback, we can learn from our critics and only get better. As an example of this, he had his students critique each other on their personalities and the way they interacted with each other. This leads to another life lesson; that we show gratitude and not complain. We should just work harder. What impressed me the most in watching Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, is the "head fake" that he pulled over on us. This lecture was not inteded to tell us how to have a successful career, but how we should lead our lives. Also, this lecture was not for us, but for his children. He clearly had a good head on his shoulders and didn't miss the opportunity to leave his children with a valuable lesson in only a loving father could teach. These are lessons that I will carry away with me after hearing this lecture. I can only hope that I will leave behind a legacy of one that would make my family proud as Randy Pausch did.