Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Matt Damon, Teachers And Values

I don't pay much attention to Hollywood and movies and TV and actors and stuff. Nothing against 'em, I'm just not all that interested. (My former wife was amazed recently that (1) I remembered the name of the movie "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and (2) that I remembered that it starred Will Smith. I was a little surprised, myself. Good movie - teaches some lessons. The kind of movie I do like. Like "Good Will Hunting" too.)

I don't automatically assume that an actor's comments or views about anything are necessarily worthwhile.

On the other hand, however,I figure it takes some smarts to make it to the top of any field, and I certainly won't dismiss an actor's comments just because he or she is an actor.

I ran across a short clip of Matt Damon speaking about teaching, and a comment he made struck me as going to the heart of a big problem in our society and current politics.

Discussing the teaching profession, an interviewer asked him if it isn't job insecurity which keeps him working hard.

His first, partial response is "I want to be an actor."

And then he hit it out of the park:
"You take this MBA style thinking - it's the problem with ed policy right now. It's this intrinsically paternalistic view of problems that are much more complex than that."
I'm not sure that the issue is really paternalism - but he goes to the core of a real societal problem - the idea that issues are one dimensional and can all be solved by the application of business and corporate values and modes of analysis - that all of life and life's problems are a matter of profit motive and economic fears and dreams.

He goes on in the video to discuss the love of teaching as the motivator for teachers, a factor which just doesn't get much attention in our modern, "corporate-values are all" society. (Looking at his wiki bio, I'm guessing he gets his insights into and knowledge of teaching from his mother, "Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University.")

Over my life, I have seen a steady shift to the idea that commerce and profits and economic self-inteerst are the end all and be all of life. We see it in attitudes about the environment; we see it when the mall becomes the destination of choice for idle hours. We see when some one says "he'll be a good political candidate, he's a business man...."

Commerce and economic self-interest are important, but we don't serve either our personal nor or national self-interest when we make them the center of our consciousness and of our values.

= = = =

Matt, if your clipping service passes this along (yeah, right, Bob) - I've only seen a few of your films - I was impressed by your performance in 'Bagger Vance,' which maybe shows you just how far out of mainstream Hollywood I am.... BTW, when I was mentioning it to my former wife, I'd forgotten you starred in it, too. Sorry.)

And thanks for standing up for teachers! Makes all that stardom even more valuable, right? (Except to the MBAs maybe)

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