Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Last Lecture: Life, Death, and all the Learning inbetween

I turned 40 this year. Its the first time in my life where when I look at myself in the mirror I finally feel like I look my age...and feel it. The thought of my own mortality rarely strikes me as something important to think about...until now.

Mark Oehlert informed the bloggosphere of the passing of Philip Dodds. I did not know him, and actually did not even know of him. But when someone impresses Mark, I know that person must be special...VERY special. Our prayers go out to his family and all who knew him...and those that didn't.

It's strange that Mark's post would come the day after I spent a late night watching
a 2 hour video titled The Last Lecture. Apparently at Carnegie Mellon University this is a common lecture series asking noted professors to give the speech that might be their last.

For Randy Pausch, this one actually IS...and he knows it. He has incurable Pancreatic cancer.

If you cannot spare a 2 hour block of time then you should watch this Wallstreet Journal story video.

He started a course called Building Virtual Worlds that quickly became a campus favorite with final presentations worth waiting in line for.

from History of the ETC
"Randy Pausch instituted what may be the most broadly cross-disciplinary course at Carnegie Mellon, titled "Building Virtual Worlds." This incredibly popular course put artists and technologists together to build virtual reality worlds. The Building Virtual Worlds end-of-the-semester showcase quickly established itself as the 'main event' of exam week; routinely packing the McConomy Auditorium in the University Center—the largest venue on campus."

When you're done watching it, join me for a group discussion on the "head fake", brickwalls, and more Pauschness and brilliance. My guess is that Randy didn't give Multiple choice tests. I would also guess that he didn't give one stinkin' rat's butt about Instructional systems design. He was simply excited about life, learning, and doing really cool stuff. And he loved helping people achieve their dreams.

Would YOUR school let you implement a project course like Building Virtual Worlds? If so...could YOU make it kick ass!? And would it be so ROCKIN' that the entire student body would wait in line at the end of the semester to see what had been created?

Oh good grief...dare I even ask...okay here it goes...Would your COMPANY allow you to kick ass! Would your company allow you to step outside the box and try something even a little different...a little on the edge? Better check with the lawyers first.

If I'm lucky, I have another 40 years. Its definitely time to kick it up a notch.

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jay said...

Brent, there's no way in hell I'll live another 40 years but I believe in kicking ass day in and day out. "We shall pass this way but once..."

Brent Schlenker said...

Well said, Jay. I'm glad someone commented. I was getting to feel a little funny for being so sappy ;-)
Good times!

Karl Kapp said...

Brent, Not sappy at all. We all need to stop and smell the roses from time to time and consider what we are doing and why! Go big or go home tend to say!

I also imagine that busy people like bloggers could certainly use the advise of slowing down just a little and finding balance before it is too late.

Moving lecture!

Great post