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The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

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  • The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

    I have been invited to seak at my university's 'Last Lecture Series' -- which means I must give a 20 minute lecture answering the question: 'What would you tell your students if you had only one last lecture to say it?'. The series is inspired by Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch's last lecture.

    The sandbox is a great place to toss around ideas and has helped me with my research in the past, so I thought I should throw the idea out here.

    Keep in mind that I am not necessarily intent on delivering a 'inspirational' speech. I may choose to adopt a more George Carlin style, go satirical, politically incorrect, or otherwise.

    Thinking both inside and outside of the box, what are some of the things you would say if you had one last talk to give your students?

    Oh, and BTW, Boo! Happy Halloween!

  • #2
    Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

    If I were to give a last lecture I'd focus on the most persistent questions that I've encountered in life and the progress that I'd made so far on their answers. I believe that Pausch reflected on some of these but with a focus on his academic experiences, which was by all means appropriate. For most of my concscious life I've wondered about questions of human self-interest and determination, the origins and persitence of belief, and more recently the concept (or rather the continuing pattern) of human-technology evolution (hence my little icon there). What will our ancestors be descendent from, how is the information age changing who we are as a species, is the spread of knowledge exponential despite human barriers, et cetera.

    Carl Sagan gave a series of lectures for the Gifford Lecture series at the University of Glasgow in 1985 entitled "The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God," which were later published as book of the same title. If I had to choose a last lecture for all mankind, this would be it.


    • #3
      Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

      Well I am by no means a high level thinker and would struggle to fill a 20 minute conversation with coherent chat, let alone a 20 minute lecture.

      That being said the situation of "one last lecture" IMO would be a personal thing. An opportunity to soul search a bit and give your views on the world, society, personal growth etc.

      I guess it's a chance to pass on the things that you have learned in life that are of value. A bad example perhaps but people who have never had kids are in the dark about life with kids. As a parent you have valuable information, lessons learned and mistakes made that you can pass onto those looking to have kids. Again, bad example but as a professor E-male I'm sure you have learned some academic/life lessons that are of value and worth passing onto your students?

      If all else fails you can always talk about online-gaming and how L337 you are :icon_lol: That's something I'm sure half of them could relate to?

      Actually that dumb little comment of mine may hold more to it? You could talk about online-gaming and how a community develops around it, friendships blossom, help is given etc.? How unique and new is that (or is it really unique at all, just a different medium?) Where is it leading, is it changing society? Who knows it could be a completely simple topic and not enough to fill 20 minutes or even captivate your audience?

      Good luck E-male


      • #4
        Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

        I'd focus on the fact on the following:
        1. we never know 100% of the situation
        2. issues are rarely black and white.
        3. always listen to what others have to say and decide if it has merit - Like my dad always says "When you speak you can only tell yourself what you already know, but if you listen to others, you might just learn something."
        4. question what people tell you and don't accept something simply because someone you trust tells you it


        • #5
          Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

          Just browse the MIT online learning website, find a physics lesson that tickles your fancy preferably something in E&M or relativity (something involving a lot of conductive spheres), and just give that.

          You know, nothing special. Just a 20 minute lecture on physics.
          ~~ Veritas simplex oratio est ~~
          No matter how far a wizard goes, he will always come back for his hat. --T. Pratchett

          <---- You know you're getting old when you rely on your forum meta-data to remind you how old you are.


          • #6
            Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

            Maybe about how great life is and to not waste it


            • #7
              Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

              Originally posted by deathknight View Post
              "When you speak you can only tell yourself what you already know, but if you listen to others, you might just learn something."
              Except that you often find, in explaining a problem to others, what you don't know, and that often points the way to a solution.

              My boss and I will sometimes get stuck on something, and get the other to look at it. Without "help", sometimes with the aid of a question, sometimes just preparing one's thoughts as one walks down the hall, the "aha" moment happens. There have been a couple times when my boss walks in, sits down, says "nevermind" and heads back out again.
              Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

              snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

              Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."


              • #8
                Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

                I would focus on the fact that, at any point in your life, you can always help others. Helping others will take your mind off of any of the problems you may have plus it usually does good.

                And boobies. Have to get a word or two in about boobies.
                I’m not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife


                • #9
                  Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

                  George Carlin's (since you mentioned him) Religion bit.

         (I don't support the website, just a handy transcript...)
                  Do or do not, there is no try....
                  -- Yoda, Dagobah


                  • #10
                    Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

                    Your only pretending to be dying so you don't have the freedom to say what you really want because of fear of professional repercussions (unless you have big brass ones) and no one knows what they would say if they were dying because it comes from a diffrent place. Randy Pausch is inspirational and all that, but he makes me queasy. Stuffed animal mouskateer disney crap ewwww. The series is designed for you to regurgitate Pauschs lecture and spew out your own brand of inspirational vomit. Sucks to be you.


                    • #11
                      Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

                      You speak a lot about media, and it's impact on our lives/society. How about going off the wall:

                      «This is my last lecture. I have decided to become a mercenary.»

                      Just ignore me if I missed the point.


                      «That looks like a really nice house except for that horrible bathroom.» Donrhos

                      | |


                      • #12
                        Re: The Last Lecture: What Would You Say?

                        Put the names of several famous historical politicians from the past 4000 years into a hat. Include people from all over the spectrum. Ghandi, Mao, Hitler, Hammurabi, Jefferson, William The Conqueror, and so on. Then pull one totally random name out of the hat.

                        You have to spend twenty minutes talking about how totally awesome that person was. No cheating!
                        A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

                        "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."




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