Famed director M. Night Shyamalan has long had a serious interest in education. The founda-tion he and his wife started once gave college scholarships to promising inner-city students, but Shyamalan realized that these scholarships did nothing to improve education for all the other students in under-performing schools. Read more...
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Famed director M. Night Shyamalan has long had a serious interest in education. The founda-tion he and his wife started once gave college scholarships to promising inner-city students, but Shyamalan realized that these scholarships did nothing to improve education for all the other students in under-performing schools. When he learned that some schools were succeeding with similar student populations, he traveled across the country to find out how they did this and whether these schools had something in common. He eventually learned that there are five keys to closing America's achievement gap. But just as we must do several things to maintain good health-- eat the right foods, exercise regularly, get a good night's sleep--so too must we use all five keys to turn around our lowest-performing schools.
These five keys are used by all the schools that are succeeding, and no schools are succeeding without them. Before he discovered them, Shyamalan investigated some popular reform ideas that proved to be dead ends, such as smaller class size, truculent unions, and merit pay for teachers. He found that the biggest obstacle to school reform is cognitive biases: too many would-be reformers have committed themselves to false solutions.
This is a deeply personal book by an unbiased observer determined to find out what works and why so that we as a nation can fulfill our obliga-tion to give every student an opportunity for a good education.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-07-22
- Reviewer: Staff
America’s “educational apartheid”—the achievement gap between high- and low-income students—weighs heavily on filmmaker Shyamalan (writer and director of The Sixth Sense). For his first book, he attends a think-tank meeting on the subject and then teams up with an education researcher to visit schools, speak with researchers, and collect evidence on the traits that make a school successful. In addition to the “five keys” (longer hours, small schools, data-driven instruction, school leaders, best teachers), the book contains a few surprises. Leading schools employ principals who monitor teachers in the classroom and free teachers from the bureaucratic demands typical of less successful schools. Further, student-achievement assessments occur more frequently throughout the school year and are calibrated so that teachers receive more detailed feedback about their students’ needs. Even something as simple as identifying ineffective teachers and eliminating them from the system sooner could have staggering results, as ineffective teacher are extremely harmful to struggling students. The book’s conversational tone and appealing humor yields an engaging narrative of one Hollywood director’s struggle to find out what works in the best schools, and how we can apply those insights to the rest. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME. (Sept.)