Thursday, August 4, 2011

Matt Damon's Pep Talk for Teachers (and Parents)

Everyone may have already seen Matt Damon's keynote speech at this weekend's Save Our Schools rally.  If you haven't heard about Save Our Schools, it was a rally held last weekend in Washington DC to show support for public schools and to protest the extensive use of high-stakes standardized testing to evaluate both students and teacher on its performance.  Although it drew some of the biggest names in the alternative education reform camp (that is, the Diane Ravitches and Alfie Kohns, not the Bill Gates and Michelle Rhees), unfortunately, it tended to be overshadowed by all the drama on Capitol Hill about the debt ceiling increase.

Matt Damon flew overnight from Vancouver, where he is filming his latest movie (hence the bald head) to give his support to the cause and to speak out against the overuse of standardized testing.  But even more, he spoke of his appreciation for teachers, and let them know how grateful people are for the tough but invaluable work they do.  He was introduced by his mother, who was, and maybe still is, a school teacher.  And he did was is really the ultimate reward that those of us who teach, or those of us who parent, fantasize about.  He acknowledged that an important part of who he has become and the success that he has achieved has come from the support and education he received from his teachers and his parenting (he does mention the last one specifically as well).  He said he knew it wasn't always easy, and he was thankful.

So I think this is a great video to have on hand for those days when teaching, or being a mom or dad, just seems really frustrating and thankless work.  Our students or children may not be able to communicate this feeling, but I'm sure they would if they could.  And it also reminds us that maybe we ought to take time to thank our own parents and teachers for the difference they have made in our lives.

You can watch Matt's mother's introduction, and then Matt's talk here:

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