12 The Last Lecture Discussion Questions

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you looking for The Last Lecture discussion questions? Do you want to see if you can take Randy Pausch’s final lecture and use it to make changes in your own life?

These The Last Lecture discussion questions cover topics such as following your childhood dreams and breaking down your brick walls. They will help you better understand the lessons from Dr. Pausch’s speech and to analyze aspects of your life.

Keep reading for 12 The Last Lecture discussion questions.

The Last Lecture Discussion Questions

The Last Lecture discussion questions originate from the speech-made-book given by Dr. Randy Pausch. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is a distillation of his life lessons and experiences. Written with reporter Jeffrey Zaslow, the best-selling book is an expanded version of a “Last Lecture” Pausch gave in 2007, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The “Last Lecture” series was a tradition in which professors presented their philosophy of life, as if it were their last chance to share what was important to them. It truly was a last chance for Pausch, who had only months to live. His book and lecture, which went viral and has been viewed by millions, are about living your dreams.

These The Last Lecture discussion questions cover the major points from Dr. Pausch’s speech.

Your Last Lecture

Carnegie Mellon University and others have a tradition of inviting professors to present a “Last Lecture,” as though it were their last chance to share personal and professional life lessons.

  • If you were invited to give a “Last Lecture,” what would your title be? What sentence or phrase sums up your life so far?
  • Think of a memorable life lesson you could include in your “last lecture.” Was it a success or failure? What was it?
  • If you knew you had only a few months to live, what would your No. 1 priority be and why?

What Was Your Dream?

The following The Last Lecture discussion questions are about following your childhood dreams. Randy Pausch achieved his childhood dreams, partly by staying in touch with them and continuing to nurture his imagination.

  • Describe your most memorable childhood dream or aspiration. How old were you when you had it? What did you do with it?
  • As an adult, did you achieve it or some version of it? How?
  • Think of a child in your life. How can you encourage his or her dream?

Brick Walls

Pausch liked to tell his students that when you run into brick walls, they’re an opportunity for you to demonstrate how badly you want something. 

  • Think of a time when something threatened to prevent you from getting what you wanted. What did you want and what was the obstacle?
  • What was your first reaction? Did you question whether you really wanted it or start thinking of ways around the obstacle? What did you end up doing?
  • What’s another brick wall you currently face? What action will you take and why?

Tigger or Eeyore?

Pausch was a huge fan of Disney so these The Last Lecture discussion questions relate to Disney personalities. During his lecture, Pausch urged his audience to choose which Winnie-the-Pooh character they wanted to be—the exuberant Tigger or gloomy Eeyore.

  • Are you mostly a Tigger or an Eeyore? Why do you say that?
  • How has a Tigger or Eeyore outlook affected your life? Give an example.
  • Think of a situation in your life that you approached with an Eeyore-like attitude. How would approaching it as a Tigger have been different?
12 The Last Lecture Discussion Questions

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Last Lecture summary:

  • What Randy Pausch's philosophy of life was
  • How a professor with only months to live recounted his life's experiences and lessons
  • How a computer science professor ended up on a secret project with Disney

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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