What's the theme of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Last lecture by Randy Pausch is an outstanding book with very clear messages. Randy Pausch, a university professor, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is usually a fatal disease. In his book, Randy set out to leave several messages for his three young children which they would be better able to understand when they were older. From his book, his messages reached far more people than just his children. In his book, he talked about the importance of having and pursuing dreams. He also focused on encouraging people to really think about what is really important in life. He felt too often people emphasize the material aspects of life over other more important ideas. He said nobody can control various aspects of life. What people can control is how they respond to those events. He wanted everybody to know that he was given a bad break in life, yet he chose to make the most of the time he had left. It allowed him to focus on and realize what was really important in life. This book is a must read for everybody.

On a separate note, in part because of this book, I developed something called The Final lesson. I have my students for two years (grades 7-8). On the last day of instruction in eighth grade, I present this lesson, which is 15 lessons we learned about life through our study of U.S. History in the past two years.  It is a very well received lesson!!!

poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture is a book depicting the lecture Pausch gave at Carnegie Mellon in September of 2007 entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." This lecture was part of a series which asked academics to give a hypothetical final talk answering the question, "What wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?"

A mere month before presenting his lecture, Pausch was informed that the pancreatic cancer he had been diagnosed with the prior year was terminal; in other words, his hypothetical last lecture had become a literal last lecture. With this in mind, he set out to discuss three primary subjects: his childhood dreams (including the concept of inspiration and permission to dream), enabling the dreams of others, and the lessons he had learned over the course of his life.

The theme of this lecture is best described by Pausch himself toward the end of the book:

"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."

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Last Lecture was Randy Pausch's way to deliver a lasting message to his children about the way in which he hoped they would approach their lives after he was no longer physically present with them. In the lecture which became the book, he drew on the life experiences he had accumulated and the lessons he had learned from those experiences. Based on his conclusions, he delivered a series of pieces of advice to those listening to his lecture - and to his children.

A summary of the lecture's theme could be considered to be:

Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I've always believed that if you took one tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you'd be surprised by how well things can work out.