Friday, September 13, 2013

Why do we need celebrities to fix education?

Director M. Night Shyamalan is the latest celebrity to take a turn at telling us how to fix the education system in the United States. I just heard about his book, I Got Schooled, Wednesday and decided to check out his ideas. Rather than read the book, I thought I would follow how the media is covering his book tour. [updated 10/3/13] Already, I have found a funny prediction from Slate, a review from NPR, interviews from Leonard LopateFox News Radio,U.S. NewsThe Dallas Morning NewsMy FOX LA, and Travis Smiley, and this from The Cycle.

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It would be fair to say that I ought not criticize the book without having read it. But I do not plan on reading or critiquing the book. You see, I do not think nearly as many people will read the book as will watch the media-attention associated with the book tour. (To be honest, I have enough books to read on education reform.) Besides, the real problem is that the 5 Keys to Unlocking Quality Education he is touting ought to be questioned, not just accepted at face value.

Unfortunately, once again the media does not appear up to the task. So John and I got the MTT2K band back together and created this parody. It will help if you watch The Cycle interview first as we are trying to mirror (in an alternative universe kind of way) what happens in that clip.

In case you did not make it all the way through our video, let me make it clear that we are mostly frustrated with a media that seems to be more interested in crafting questions than analyzing answers.

Mr. Shyamalan is free to offer his interpretation of the educational research, but, as I said before, I am not buying it. And neither should you. (Turns out Mr. Shyamalan agrees: "I really just don't know who could possibly want to pick up this book.") Go ahead and watch the celebrities share their education reform solutions, but then check out the actual education research. If you are interested in improving teaching and learning, read John Hattie's Visible Learning for Teachers. If you want to know about the achievement gap and ways to address it, read Claude Steele's Whistling Vivaldi.

And media, if you are paying attention, invite real experts to address educational issues and try to avoid the education celebrities. (Or be sure to add the following disclaimer, just like this reviewer did: "I won't pretend to know if whether Shyamalan's findings or theories are sound...")


  1. "It all feels like things are contradictoring each other" *headdesk*

  2. The big twist at the end of the book is that he doesn't *actually* know anything about education, and that the whole thing was a dream.

  3. If he followed his own advice for making movies scary, then he left out something important from the book...

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  5. Celebrities has a massive impact internationally and using their voice for Pro Literacy should be pushed since they are being looked up to by many young kids.

    1. A good point but only if their voice represents responsible positions.