Universities, Professors Retire Invited Give a Last Essay

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universities, professors retire invited give a Last Lecture. Dr. Randy Pausch tradition. What made story, dying pancreatic cancer, knew . His lecture featured Good Morning America television show, millions readers bought copies book form.

A Positive Man: Randy Pausch and the Last Lecture

Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" is a great example of the power of communication. It is simply a college professor's speech -- albeit one with great gravitas, as the deliverer is suffering from a terminal illness -- but it has made a worldwide impact due to the frank, humorous, and inspirational story it tells. Pausch's wisdom reverberates in the mind of the viewer long after watching. In delivering this last lecture, he manages to educate his audience about a myriad of topics, not the least of which is the human condition.

One of the most revelatory ideas in Pausch's speech is the notion of the "head fake;" Pausch alternately defines the term as "indirect learning." (Pausch, 2007). The head fake is, in essence, the art of subverting the true purpose of education by layering it with something the audience will find more palatable or superficially entertaining. The first example he gives of a head fake in his life is learning football. Encouraging a child to play the sport, Pausch says, is not for the purposes of making them
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a great football player and the relative merits of that exercise. Rather, parents want children to learn football to "learn much more important things. Teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance" (Pausch, 2007). He also offers the example of the Alice project, the crowning achievement of his career, which was an elaborate head fake to get kids interested in computer programming by making it into a game (Pausch, 2007). A skill for head faking seems like a useful tool for any rhetorical speaker to possess. Pausch seems to know that, as he later reveals that his entire lecture has been a vehicle for two head fakes: a) that the lecture has actually been about "how to lead your life," and b) that the "talk's not for you [the audience], it's for my kids" (Pausch, 2007). These messages make the already incredibly personal speech even more meaningful.

Another thing that was educational in the lecture was its focus on how the contributions of other people played a role in Pausch's career. There are over a dozen occasions in the speech where Pausch stops to mention the name of a colleague, a mentor, a student, a coworker, or a family member who has influenced his life and work. It is notable because, at the close of his life, Pausch is acknowledging that the accomplishments and knowledge that he has amassed has come from the community he built up around himself. This is an important lesson for everyone, in…

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References

Pausch, R. (2007). The last lecture: Really achieving your childhood dreams. Lecture. Retrieved on 11 Apr 2011 from Randy Pausch's website, at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch / Randy/pauschlastlecturetranscript.pdf

Peterson, C. (2008). The last lecture: A positive case study. Retrieved on 11 Apr 2011 from the Psychology Today website, at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-good-life/200806/the-last-lecture-positive-psychology-case-study

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