Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 10, 2013)
Order from Amazon
Famed filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan has entertained audiences for nearly two decades with his original films including The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village. A philanthropist and co-founder of the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation, he has led initiatives to feed the hungry, empower women, and provide orphans in Africa with life-saving multi-vitamins. Now, he is tackling one of America’s most hotly debated topics—education reform—in his new book, I GOT SCHOOLED: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap (Simon & Schuster; September 10, 2013).
In the book, Shyamalan recounts how he came to learn just how severe the education gap is in America while scouting locations for an upcoming film in two Philadelphia schools. He was so struck by the dramatic differences between the neighboring schools that he became inspired to investigate what schools responsible for closing the education gap were doing differently from those contributing to the gap and why. Shyamalan spent years researching the issue, consulting with leading education experts, and visiting schools all across the country to understand the keys to transforming America’s underperforming schools. Using examples from major cities like New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Houston, he reveals that schools are closing the education gap in poor neighborhoods and they are doing so by following five tested, indispensable practices.
The FIVE KEYS are:
Identifying ineffective teachers: And systematically removing those who are roadblocks to their students’ progress.
Promoting instructional leadership: Transforming the principal’s primary responsibility from school operations to improving the quality and consistency of teaching and school culture.
Mandatory, frequent, and collaborative feedback on teaching practice: Making teachers and principals responsible for (and capable of) analyzing and sharing all the data, from test scores to student surveys, collected from each classroom.
Reducing school size: Recognition that the optimal size for an elementary school is no more than a fifty students in each grade, and no more than one hundred and fifty in each secondary school grade.
Adding more time: At least 1700 hours a year for students on the wrong side of the achievement gap—and more years by starting them in high-quality preschool programs.
Much like the keys to a healthy lifestyle, each one is necessary, no one is sufficient. In order to be effective, each key must operate as part of the whole system. What makes these five practices key to closing the gap is quite simple—research and data prove that they have the most positive impact overall and when implemented as a system are a sure-fire path to success. In the book, Shyamalan presents ideas that while popular, did not make the list, such as smaller class sizes, increased funding, more parental choice, integration, and general accountability as outlined in the “No Child Left Behind Act.” In each instance he explains why these initiatives failed to make the list and provides data to back up their minimal impact overall.
With I GOT SCHOOLED, Shyamalan presents a compelling argument based solely on empirical data that is sure to inform and excite America’s ongoing debate about how to improve our educational system.
“The ed reform graveyard from the past few decades is filled with quick fixes and gimmicks. Shyamalan’s journey of discovery affirms there are no shortcuts if our country is going to ensure all children have access to a great education, and his five keys for any school’s success focus on the essential ingredients.”
(Mike Feinberg, co-founder of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP))
“It’s great to have M. Night Shyamalan as a new ally in the fight to transform our calcified public-education system. Like the born storyteller he is, Shyamalan has unraveled the myths of our education system and spun a clear and compelling case for what we need to do. This is a must-read for anyone concerned about our country’s kids and our country’s future.”
(Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone)
“Schools on the same block with similar students can post radically different results. I Got Schooled is evocative and will encourage educators and non-educators to debate the keys to great schools. A must-read given educational excellence for all students is the key to unlocking our country’s potential.”
(Cami Anderson, Superintendent, Newark, N.J. Public Schools)
“Filmmaker Shyamalan makes his nonfiction debut with this engaging presentation of the results of his research into methods for closing America’s education gap.. . . . A lively, provocative contribution from an outsider with his own way of addressing the problem.”
“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.”