Matt Damon interviewed about teachers

The interviewers have this weird idea that if people are really insecure about their jobs, they will work better. Damon lets them have it, but nicely. Listen to his very last words.


  1. Scott says

    Having worked in a place where I was in fear for my job, I have to say there is some truth to the statement that people in fear will work harder. But the fear and loathing was so great it also made me want to jump out the window, so it’s not exactly the healthiest environment.

    I find it very irritating that the right (and the left is starting to join in) blames teachers when society fails to support education.

  2. says

    I just adore celebrities that use their influence for good things and make me really optimistic about the future. By the way, Matt Damon is socially involved in a lot of good things, so thank you Matt!

  3. says


    The research on motivation theory strongly suggests that you can make people work harder through fear (and rewards) but you cannot make them work better. You can make people do things but not make them want to do it really well.

    Really good work, especially if it involves any kind of creativity, emerges when people want to do a good job for its own sake.

  4. Henry says

    In Industrial-Organizational Psychology there is an area of study on Organizatial Citizenship Behaviors or OCBs.

    This research looks at why (when pay is the same) some choose to work harder. For example, imagine a factory where everyone is paid the same. The machine breaks down. One person sits down to take a nap. A different person grabs a broom and starts sweeping. Why the difference in behavior if all other things are equal?

    There is some evidence that those people who are more internally motivated engage in OCBs more to benefit others while those who are externally motivated engaged in OCBs to benefit themselves.

    So pay for performance (external motivation) might increase certain behaviors in people who are externally motivated.

    The question becomes are the people who seek jobs as teachers in large externally motivated? If not, pay for performance may not be effective.

    IMO, this entire conversation is based on the premise that a standardized test is a good measure of performance. I disagree with that idea.

  5. Bruce says

    What’s interesting about the idea of teachers and incentives is the strange notion that pay is the only acceptable way to evaluate motivation in a job.

    If I were to become a teacher (let’s say 12 years ago), my motivations may have been stable (albeit diminished) pay, summers and winter breaks off, lower health care costs, and job security (although I suggest the tenure system and job security is a bit misunderstood).

    Now assume, 12 years ago, there is some sort of stock market bubble and the private industry is raking in the money. Boy, do they like to make fun of public sector salaries. “Hey! You could be a millionaire with this dot-com thing!”

    Now assume, the economy is bad. The focus is now on how the teachers are getting away with free summers, tenure, ridiculous health care, and bloated salaries.

    When one gets an MBA, they are choosing risk, rewards, and little time off. When one becomes a teacher, they are choosing time off and a predictable economic situation.

    If the MBA thinks there are too many bad teachers and the lifestyle is too easy, then perhaps they should get a teaching license. What’s wrong dude? Salary too small? Can’t handle the kids? No conventions in Vegas? Need a second job over the summer because you need more stuff?

  6. says

    Nice video there. As rightly pointed out by you Professor, job insecurity and incentives may have something to do with getting people to work harder but definitely not better. Whatever be the work that you do,if you are passionate about it, you’ll not think twice about your earnings because you are doing it to please yourself and not the others.
    I would like to cite an example,about a friend of mine whose family is full of doctors-specialists in various fields of medicine to be precise-who chose to be a teacher for a not-so-good salary just because she wanted to be one. Hats off to such people who follow their heart no matter what and achieve true happiness and satisfaction in life.

  7. peter says

    Speaking of teachers and their much-maligned union status, I saw bumper sticker recently that said something along the lines of “My Mom’s a Union Thug”

    I liked it because it reminds people that Union =/= Gangster

    Especially the ones that we entrust to educate our children.

    As a union stagehand I’m pretty annoyed by the behavior of the cameraman, but I’m just going to assume he’s non-union…

  8. Tim says

    I agree with Omri. Way to go, Matt! I would encourage interested people to review the literature on emotional engagement and employment. It falls in line with what Mano says. Needing to “motivate” anyone … through fear or anything else, is paternalistic b*llsh*t.

  9. says

    I commented on this video on another blog. THis speaks for itself. Why Become a teacher -It’s the passion and inspiration you give the next generation.

    Thank you,

    Eric Bloom

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