The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture

The Head Fake Symbol Analysis

The Head Fake Symbol Icon

Randy learns the head fake—a situation in which someone believes that they are learning about one thing, but are really learning about something different—from his old-school youth football coach, Coach Graham. Randy believes that youth sports, in general, are an example of the head fake, as most parents don’t care so much whether their kid learns about the intricacies of the sport. Instead, they want their kids to learn about “teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, the value of hard work, [and] an ability to deal with adversity.” Similarly, Randy’s software project Alice is designed to teach kids how to create video games and make stop-motion animated movies. But, really, it teaches them the fundamentals of how to program computers without the kids even realizing it. Finally, Randy’s last lecture is, in itself, an example of a head fake—the title says it’s about how to achieve your dreams, but it’s really “about how to lead your life.” In Randy’s view, one of the best ways to learn something important is to believe you’re really learning about something else.

The Head Fake Quotes in The Last Lecture

The The Last Lecture quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Head Fake. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hyperion edition of The Last Lecture published in 2008.
Introduction Quotes

Under the ruse of giving an academic lecture, I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children.

Related Characters: Randy Pausch (speaker), Dylan, Logan, Chloe
Related Symbols: The Head Fake
Page Number: xiv
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

…even though I did not reach the National Football League, 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.

Related Characters: Randy Pausch (speaker), Coach Jim Graham
Related Symbols: The Head Fake
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

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The second kind of head fake is the really important one—the one that teaches people things they don’t realize they’re learning until well into the process. If you’re a head-fake specialist, your hidden objective is to get them to learn something you want them to learn.

Related Characters: Randy Pausch (speaker), Coach Jim Graham
Related Symbols: The Head Fake
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 27 Quotes

…if it is presented as a storytelling activity, girls become perfectly willing to learn how to write software. In fact, they love it… Everybody loves telling stories. It’s one of the truly universal things about our species. So in my mind, Caitlin wins the All-Time Best Head-Fake Award.

Related Characters: Randy Pausch (speaker), Caitlin Kelleher
Related Symbols: The Head Fake
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 61 Quotes

“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.”

Related Characters: Randy Pausch (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Head Fake
Page Number: 205-206
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Head Fake Symbol Timeline in The Last Lecture

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Head Fake appears in The Last Lecture. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7: I Never Made It to the NFL
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
Entitlement vs. Earning Theme Icon
...to deal with adversity.” This kind of indirect learning is what Randy calls a “ head fake ”. Randy says that there are two kinds of head fakes—literal ones, like when a... (full context)
Chapter 27: The Promised Land
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
...it to chase their dreams. He sees Alice as a prime example of the “ head fake ,” because students think they’re using Alice to make movies or create video games, but... (full context)
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
...to write software—everybody loves telling stories, and, in Randy’s mind, Caitlin wins the “All-Time Best Head-Fake Award.” (full context)
Chapter 61: The Dreams Will Come to You
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
...told the audience that the talk was about achieving childhood dreams, but there was a head fake —the talk isn’t “about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your... (full context)
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Lastly, Randy goes to a slide that reads, “Have you figured out the second head fake ?” Randy then tells them—“The talk wasn’t just for this in the room.” It was... (full context)