The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture


Randy Pausch

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The Last Lecture: Chapter 54 Summary & Analysis

Randy says people’s rights should also come with responsibilities to their communities. Randy uses the example of people wanting the right to a jury trial, while “many people go to great lengths to get out of jury duty.” In his classes, Randy makes his students sign a contract that outlines their rights (to get their work critiqued and displayed) and responsibilities (to attend class, give their peers honest feedback, work in groups, etc.)
Signing a contract in Randy’s class ensures that students know that they’re not entitled to their place in the class and instead they must earn the ability to have their work critiqued and displayed by giving other students the same attention, courtesy, and honest feedback that they want to receive.
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Randy’s dad taught Randy this lesson when he was young, and he exemplified it as Little League Baseball commissioner. Randy’s dad was having trouble finding volunteer umpires—it’s a thankless job, with every call disputed by a kid or parent. So, Randy’s dad decided that players from the older-age divisions would serve as umps for the younger kids, making it an honor to be selected as an ump. So, the kids who became umps realized how hard it was and rarely argued with umpires again, and the younger kids saw role models who had embraced volunteering, making them more likely to do so in the future. Randy’s dad knew that when “we’re connected to others, we become better people.”
Randy’s dad turns the obstacle of nobody wanting to be an umpire into an opportunity to institute a feedback loop for volunteerism in the Little League Baseball community. Randy’s dad accomplishes this by turning the job of the umpire into a respected task. With older kids umping for younger ones, the younger kids learn to treat the older kids with more respect, the parents don’t yell (at least as much) at the kid-umps, and the whole thing creates a more positive attitude around sportsmanship and community service.
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon