Saturday, 1 January 2011
New Year, New Inspiration
Just before Christmas I was snowed in for the weekend and with the buses into town not running I trudged three miles to my local shopping centre through the snow in search of a last Christmas present. I was looking for a book for a friend I was due to have Christmas dinner with, but with just about the worst-stocked and shabbiest WH Smith in the country to hand, specialising mainly in sports and celeb biographies, I despaired of finding anything.
Eventually I found a suitable history book amidst the half dozen titles available on the subject. Then much to my surprise I saw the shop had a whole section devoted to self-help books, among which I saw lurking an intriguing-looking title; 'The Last Lecture' with a cartoon rocket on the cover and claiming to have sold over 3 million copies.
It turned out to be by an American professor who had terminal pancreatic cancer. That doesn't sound very cheerful I thought, but picked it up and leafed through the first chapter despite myself. I was quickly hooked as one of the liveliest, most positive, entertaining and switched on characters ever to jump off a page, jumped out and assailed me with inspiration that my dreams are achievable.
Later I found he was also an internet phenomenon with over 12 million people watching his 'Last Lecture' (traditionally a good-natured conceit aimed at getting the best out of an American Professor in pretending that this is his last ever lecture and what would he share with the world)? Sadly in Professor Pausch's case, it therefore carried extra resonance.
If you have a spare hour and a quarter, I thoroughly recommend watching Randy Pausch in action - I guarantee you will be a changed person afterwards, but in the best way.
I am just hoping discovering him when I did is a good omen for my concept to revolutionise University education in the face of all the recent attacks on it. What better inspiration could I find for that very genre than this gentleman?