Grace attended James Madison University has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school social studies in several states around the country.
The Last Lecture
When he was a professor at Carnegie Melon University, Randy Pausch and several other professors were asked to give a lecture that would describe their best wisdom and life advice. Only a month before he gave the lecture, Pausch learned that his pancreatic cancer was fatal and that he had less than a year to live. After the lecture, Pausch wrote the book The Last Lecture with journalist Jeffrey Zaslow. This book talks about life lessons, success and goals. It is ripe for discussion amongst your high school and post-secondary students. Use these questions to help students think critically about the book.
Questions on Plot
- Pausch recounts many of the ways his parents encouraged him to pursue his dreams. He goes into details of how he accomplished many of his childhood dreams- even ones that seem impossible when you initially read about them. How do you think his life would have turned out differently if his parents had not encouraged him to pursue these dreams?
- Almost undeniably, Pausch has some unique and amazing experiences that almost anyone could be envious of. What is the role of luck versus hard work in achieving these? When Pausch's application to work for Disney was originally denied, do you think he thought that dream was dead?
- We are all the sum of our experiences. Which of Pausch's life experiences do you think was most influential in the man he became?
- What emotions did you feel at the end of the book when Pausch becomes personal with his messages for his wife and children? Think about the rest of the book -- why do you think Pausch puts them in this very public and widely read book instead of a personal note?
- How is the symbolism of the ''head-fake'' woven throughout the book? Think about its introduction at the very beginning of the book to the statements he makes about it at the end. Did you see this coming?
- What do you think Pausch would think of the famous quote from the poem ''Invictus'' by William Ernest Henley, ''I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.''
Takeaways and Application
- What do you think were Pausch's greatest motivations in writing this book?
- Having read this book, what was your greatest takeaway? How will it impact your life going forward?
- When talking about his failure to achieve the dream of playing in the NFL, Pausch says that ''I sometimes think I got more from pursuing that dream, and not accomplishing it, than I did from many of the ones I did accomplish.'' What do you think he means by this? Can you think of any failures in life that have taught you more than some of your greatest successes?
- Of the advice Pasuch gives on how to achieve your dreams, which piece do you think is the most essential? Starting today, are there any pieces of wisdom that you can commit to practicing?
- One of the reasons Pausch's parents allowed him to paint his dreams on his bedroom wall was to make them public--to put them into the universe. If you would like to, share one of your big, seemingly unrealistic dreams with the class. There is no dream too big or too small.
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