Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Last Lecture - Be a Penguin

I continually find myself thinking about Randy Pausch (former Carnegie Mellon professor) and The Last Lecture - "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." I first saw him on Oprah when he was still alive, watched the video, and then bought his book. Despite the fact that death and dying is a mature subject, I told my students the story about Randy and how he made his dreams of becoming a Disney Imagineer come true before he died of pancreatic cancer at age 47. I can never read the book, watch the videos, or even talk about his story without tearing up.
What I wanted them to get out of it was not only to never give up on their dreams, but also to "be a penguin." You see, Randy told his students that "even in the toughest of waters, one penguin had to be brave enough to take the first dive" and test the water, despite the risk of being eaten by seals, sharks, and killer whales. I can be caught frequently saying, "Who's going to be a penguin?" after asking a question that my students might not be confident in answering. They have really taken to the idea, and hands immediately shoot up when they remember what Randy said. What also inspired them was seeing the bridge that was built in his honor. It lights up in different colors and has cut outs of diving penguins, so seeing it makes them (and I'm sure his family and friends) feel like he won't be forgotten.
Watch the video of Randy's Last Lecture on Window's Media Player and other videos here.

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

“It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's about how to lead your life, ... If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.”

“The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ”

"When you're screwing up and nobody's saying anything to you, that means they've given up on you."

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer."

Purchase the Disney Edition (grades 6-12) to read with or to your students. Proceeds go to Randy's family.

Check out part of my "bucket" list of things to do before I "kick the bucket" (which I had already written, but started to put into action thanks to Randy). Do you have a bucket list? What's on it?


  1. Thanks for reminding of a few of the wonderful lessons contained in this book. It's been a long time since I read it and I need to read it again. I'm also getting my daughters the Disney edition for Christmas.
    2B Honey Bunch

  2. Alysia-

    I read this book this past summer and loved it! Thanks for the reminder about all of the great quotes that can help us get through life and remind us of what is important. I'm putting this on my "read again" list for Christmas break! :)




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