Randy Pausch: An Inspiring Educationist

You've got to get your fundamentals down because otherwise the fancy stuff isn't going to work.Randy Pausch – zesty professor of human computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University, shot to fame long before his famous last lecture at his alma mater. His eminence lay in the way he dedicated his life to come up with the most ingenious means to broadcast the beauty of design education to those around him.

As a 9-year-old, Pausch was obsessed with becoming an NFL footballer when he grew up. In an attempt to realise his dream, Randy signed up for a football club under a towering, beastly fellow named Jim Graham, who everyone dreaded. On day one, the coach turned up, but to the surprise of the team, without any footballs.

Why didn’t Coach Graham bring any footballs?

The Coach asked the team, “how many men are on the football field at a time?” The team replied, “Twenty-two in total, inclusive of both teams.” He then asked, “how many people possess the ball at a given time?” “One.”

The Coach pointed out, that they would be working on the twenty one other people on the field who are without the ball, at any given point in time. Why would he say that? The simple answer was: one simply cannot build a game strategy without getting the basics right. He added that a player should gauge what mind-set the other players are in to tackle the game and win it, instead of paying attention to the one person who possesses the ball. Pausch gathered that the deeper one would understand the nitty-gritties, the better the build-up on any strategy would hold.

Hard taskmaster that he was, the Coach would make Pausch work hard at practice, pointing out what he did wrong time and again, and making him do the entire exercise till he got it right. After one such tough day, an assistant coach made Pausch realise that Coach Graham really took interest in his progress, and that’s why he was pushing Pausch to do better.

Action Summary:

  • Get your fundamentals in place before you attack the bigger picture. Goals before the grandiose is the mantra to success.

  • Accept and work on constructive criticism. The experienced ones who take interest in you, do so because they see a spark in you to excel.

~ Atrija Gaur