Celebs + Causes = Frequently Opportunistic.
Matt Damon + Save Our Schools = Dead Sexy.
This weekend, Massachusetts’ favorite son (admit it, no one chooses Affleck when Damon is on the table) marched in Washington at the Save Our Schools rally. His mother was a teacher. His speech articulates really well my own feelings about my very high-end, very affluent public education:
“As I look at my life today, the things that I value about myself, my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity, came from the way that I was parented and taught. And none of these qualities that I just mentioned, none of these qualities that I prize so deeply, none of these qualities that have brought me so much joy, that have made me so successful professionally, none of these qualities that make me who I am can be tested.”
Also, his mom sounds like a badass. Her response to administrators who wanted to test Damon, ‘My kid ain’t taking that. It’s stupid, it won’t tell you anything and it’ll just make him nervous.’
This is why that Alfie Kohn essay was so damn good; it pinpointed how convoluted our benchmarks have become. We think we’ve succeeded if students can pass a test that we wrote, and then taught them exactly how to pass. We will have actually succeeded when students graduate high school with adaptable skills, an inquisitive attitude, and the desire to keep learning on the job (which is what most of us have to do anyway). Raising test scores is all well and good, but test scores aren’t enough to promise kids that we’ve prepared them for the “real world.”
It’s incredibly hard to measure imagination, creativity, curiosity, problem-solving, ambition, teamwork, especially on a macro scale. But it’s these skills that make for successful adults in the fast-paced, constantly-changing economy we live in. Too much emphasis on rote memorization, ask-and-answer drills and fill-in-the-blanks detract from classroom time that teachers need to stimulate the real learning.
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