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What M. Night Shyamalan Taught Me About Schools

Posted by Scott Barron on Mar 4, 2014 1:28:57 PM
Scott Barron

I Got Schooled


I recently finished reading M. Night Shyamalan's book, I Got Schooled, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is involved with or cares about education. It captures his own personal journey in understanding the complexities and opportunities for innovative school design. The self-proclaimed "word-for-word highest-paid writer in the world" confirmed a few strategies and inspired me to think about a few others.

The brilliance and energy that has distinguished his movie making career produced a book that is well researched and easily read. It was interesting to see the perspective of someone who is outside of the "Education world," relatively untainted by the curse of knowledge and pride that plagues many of us who are daily involved in school life.

Rather than outline his 5 Keys to Closing America's Education Gap, below are some of the passages or lines from the book that I liked most.


"There's no debate at all about the importance of teachers...teachers are the engines that make schools run."

"The big breakthrough in evaluating teachers, it turns out, is not comparing test scores between teachers, or schools, or years, but comparing growth, by comparing a student's actual progress against that students expected progress."

"Students who spend A single year with a very effective teacher get up to 45% more out of that year than students who spend it with an average teacher."

"The cost of poor teachers outweigh the benefits provided by good ones."

"Even though we can't do a better job at hiring teachers, we can be a lot more successful at firing them, or, more accurately, retaining the teachers that are good and great."

"Anyone who says we don't know enough to get unsuccessful teachers out of the classroom is uninformed."

"Even the most expensive private schools and the public schools in the most affluent suburbs have teachers whose skills, energies, and talents would place them in the very bottom percentile of the profession."

"School leadership is yes yeah second only to classroom teaching as an influence on learning."

"High-achieving schools also had more strategies for using data to customize instruction for different students."

"You can't figure out how to close the achievement gap by examining any single practice. Using data and feedback to improve instruction is helpful all by itself. But it's far more valuable when it's part of a system of other practices that reinforce one another."

"The effect size for choosing one curriculum over another can be huge."

"All forms of feedback, including data-driven instruction, promotion of best practices, and evaluation of curricula in light of every school's specific circumstances determined sustainability."

"Attendance and graduation rates tend to rise as school populations fall."

"Every school that is succeeding in closing the achievement gap is adding a lot of hours to the school year, in just about every way they can think of."

"It's odd, but most schools don't really understand who they are, which is one reason they are so frequently surprised when the candidate that looks so good on paper turns out to be not so good in the classroom."

Topics: School Design, Current Events

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