Randy Pausch was a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. In September, 2006 he learned that he had terminal pancreatic cancer and a year later he delivered a speech commonly referred to as a “Last Lecture” titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. A video of this speech was posted on the internet and was watched by millions of people. Randy states that while this lecture was given to students and faculty at Carnegie Mellon using his life’s dreams and ambitions to inspire the next generation, his real intent was to leave behind a legacy for his children.
We learn that while Randy did everything in his power to achieve all of his childhood dreams, not everything was accomplished. We learn the power of failing and how that can also help achieve your dreams. We learn that sometimes your dreams do not come true but may lead you to something you may not have realized you wanted in the first place. The theme of his lecture was about how having childhood dreams and the road to achieve these dreams may be blocked by “brick walls” (cmu. du) but teaches that “brick walls are there for a reason, they let us prove how badly we want things”. (cmu. edu) That is one of many inspirational quotes given by Randy in his 75 minute lecture. During his lecture he describes six childhood dreams he had and what he did to achieve those dreams. While the lecture alone was powerful and thought provoking, knowing this was coming from a man with terminal cancer and the positive attitude in which he presents his life is truly inspiring to both students and teachers alike.
His lecture was then turned into a New York Times bestselling book. Dotted with personal stories and pictures, the book put a more human face on an already motivating speech. One day as I was finishing the book (for the second time! ) a teacher friend called me on the phone. We got into a discussion on how Randy was a significant influence on her teaching as well as her view of what her students can accomplish and how to motivate them. I, on the other hand, expressed how his outlook on life greatly influenced my life and my path as a student.
When doing research for this paper I wanted to give a two part perspective on how Randy Pausch influenced both teachers and students alike. My friend, Dolly Helmsley, agreed to sit down with me for an interview. I have found that Dolly and I had both been affected by the same aspects of the speech. While she took his teachings and applied them to her life as I have, we both had been profoundly inspired by his take on not getting what you want. “Experience is what you get when you did not get what you wanted. ” (cmu. du) I think about this all the time when I am doing homework or going to class. I know that changing careers and receiving another education is giving me a life experience and another purpose in life. While Dolly uses this quote with her students when they complain “That’s not fair” or “Why not me” etc. We were also moved by his description of “brick walls”.
He used this a lot in his speech stating “Brick walls are there to stop the people that don’t want it badly enough”. (cmu. edu) Every time I hit a brick wall regarding my future and/or education, I ask myself “how badly do I want this? . Honestly, sometimes I stop pursuing something when I think it is not “worth it” but when pursuing my education I know I want this and I find a way to complete my homework, papers or any given task at hand while meeting the demands of work and family. Dolly was also inspired by this particular quote. It is what inspired her to complete her Masters degree. She takes his “Brick Wall” quotes that have inspired her life and used them in her classroom. Dolly stated when her students complain that something is too hard or that they can’t achieve something she quotes Mr.
Pausch “Brick walls show our dedication” (cmu. edu) meaning that her students should dedicate themselves to an education, stick it out and they will succeed. Randy Pausch died ten months after giving his last lecture. When things get hard or messy Dolly and I both pause and think of this legacy he left for his children, who are now fatherless. Knowing he was going to die, leaving a family behind I am mostly inspired by his humor. When times get tough I say to myself “Don’t bail, the best gold is at the bottom of the barrels of crap! ” (cmu. edu)