The National Press Club hosted a luncheon with the internationally recognized film writer and director, M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan has written and directed many movies including The Sixth Sense (1999), which was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture. How is this Hollywood superstar related to education reform? Shyamalan recently published a book, I Got Schooled, based solely on empirical data to a solution to close the existing education gap in the United States that exists between the success of students in inner city schools compared to their suburban counter parts.
In 2007, Shyamalan was scouting two schools in Philadelphia as locations for a movie when he came across the horrifying discrepancies that existed in schools. He became intrigued with the issue and spent four years attempting to collect and organize data on the differences in schools.
Inspired by the idea that humans only need to do five basic things to stay healthy for a lifetime, Shyamalan utilized the data he collected to uncover a five-item solution that all schools could implement in be successful in providing a sustainable education for all students. The five things he developed are (1) a loud and consistent culture of strong leadership (2) properly trained teachers (3) consistent data collection on effective practices (4) more time in a school setting, and (5) small schools.
Shyamalan describes that all five factors are necessary, and no one item is sufficient on its own or without another. It is important for principals to spend their time teaching the teachers and utilizing the entire school to maintain a culture of growth, instead of relying one classroom alone to provide a fulfilling education for students. Teachers need to be trained “like a navy seal” in order to be successful in the schools, and currently teachers and principals are being held