The Last Lecture Chapters 38-40 Summary & Analysis

Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture

  • 23-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 61 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a high school English teacher with over 10 years of experience
Access Full Summary

The Last Lecture Chapters 38-40 Summary & Analysis

Chapters 38 – 40

Again, using lessons he would work into his classes, Randy offers practical tips for anyone who wants to make the most out of their life. In Chapter 38, Randy invites us to embrace clichés as an important instructional tool. The most common ones he used were:
• “Dance with the one who brung you.
• Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
• Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.
• Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” (146-147).

Chapter 39, entitled “Be the First Penguin”, recalls how he used “The First Penguin Award” to encourage his students to take risks, even when failure was a strong possibility. The award would go to the group that took the biggest gamble and failed to achieve their goals—an award for “glorious failure”. It “celebrated out of the box thinking and using imagination in a daring way” (149). The idea came from the fact that when “penguins are about to jump into water that might contain predators, well, somebody’s got to be the first penguin” (149).

In Chapter 40, Randy uses the analogy of clear, technical writing to teach his students about the pitfalls of being really “smart”. Even though their computer programming and engineering may be complex design work, they are creating things for people who don’t have this knowledge, and therefore, their instructions need to be clear and simple. They need to “ about the end users of their creations” (150).

Chapters 38-40 Analysis

These chapters, again, illustrate Randy’s penchant for looking at the big picture, even if they come in the form of clichés or odd awards. The end goal is always the main goal and by teaching his students the resiliency that is necessary to bounce back from failure, he removes the obstacles that may appear in the middle of the journey and rewards them for their attempts. This focus on the end goal is also prevalent in his attention on the “end user” of the computer programs they are designing. This philosophy of “beginning with the end in mind” helps to narrow the focus of a…

This is just a preview. The entire section has 373 words. Click below to download the full study guide for The Last Lecture.