Activism

Matt Damon Defends Teachers In Epic Rant Against Education System

This time the outspoken actor stands up for teachers in a passionate attack on standardized testing, and a few home truths about creativity.

“As I look at my life today and the things that I value the most about myself: my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my curiosity…all of these things came from the way that I was parented and taught,” says Matt Damon in this inspirational speech given at a teachers’ rally in Washington.

The footage (above) is from July 2011, but for those of you who missed it the first time round, it’s more relevant today than ever.

“None of these qualities that I just mentioned, that bring me so much joy, that I prize so deeply, that make me who I am…none of them can be tested,” Damon goes on, to a huge round of applause from the teachers in the crowd. “My teachers were empowered to teach me,”

Damon points out, noting how much the education system has changed since he was at school.

“Their time was not taken up with a bunch of silly test prep, a bunch of drill-and-kill nonsense that any serious person knows doesn’t promote real learning. My teachers were free to approach all of us as an individual puzzle. They were empowered to unlock our potential: in other words, they were allowed to be teachers. I shudder to think that these tests are being used today to control where funding goes. I genuinely don’t know where I’d be today if my teachers’ job security was based on how I performed on some standardized tests.”

Damon, whose mother is a teacher, tells the audience an anecdote about “my only brush with standardized testing.” It was back in the 1970s when his mother told the principal: “My kid’s not doing that.” He says she explained her decision by stating: “It’s stupid, it won’t tell you anything and it’ll just make him nervous.”

The crowd of educators cheer at this, clearly in agreement with his every word. Damon asks which is more important: teaching a child a deep and life-long love of learning, or making sure they remember the correct answers for a test? What happened to promoting creativity and original ideas?

Outspoken Damon finishes his rousing speech with some touching words to boost the audience’s morale:

“As I get older I appreciate more and more the teachers that I had growing up. So the next time you’re feeling down, unappreciated, at the end of your rope…the next time you turn on the TV and see yourself being called ‘overpaid’, the next time you have to deal with a corporate reformer who has literally never taught anyone anything, please know that there are millions of us behind you.”

Are you one of them? Share if you agree that too much testing stifles creativity, and teachers should be empowered to teach! Damon’s speech is above. The video below shows what happened after the event:

Watch the actor (and his mom!) angrily debate with a TV reporter who makes the mistake of defending standardized testing.


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