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I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap [Kindle Edition]

M. Night Shyamalan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)

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Book Description

I Got Schooled offers a look at America’s educational achievement gap that could only have come from an outsider.

Famed director M. Night Shyamalan has long had a serious interest in education. The founda­tion 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 obliga­tion to give every student an opportunity for a good education.

Editorial Reviews


“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.” (Kirkus Reviews)

"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." (Publishers Weekly)

"Shyamalan is smart and sincere, and his innovative ideas are unbound by the educational establishment." (John Wilwol

"Shyamalan’s conclusions (centered around lots of training, better data analysis and a reliable, observation-based method of locating and firing bad teachers) . . . are argued with persuasive data and a surprising sense of optimism." (Emily Guendelsberger Philadelphia CityPaper)

About the Author

M. Night Shyamalan—screenwriter, director, and producer—has captured the attention of audiences around the world with his original films for almost two decades. His films include The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, The Village, and The Happening. He and his wife, Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan, cofounded the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation, dedicated to helping empower individuals.

Product Details

  • File Size: 682 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1476716455
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 10, 2013)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A287N8C
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,743 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening September 30, 2013
I think it's always nice to have a fresh perspective in a conversation that seems dominated by two sides, which is I why I picked up this book. Much to my surprise, this was not an advice-driven book, but a book highlighting what experts, practitioners, and research support as effective methods for closing our education achievement gap. I would encourage anyone tempted to attack the author to read the content first-it was easy to read, supported by data, and left me feeling optimistic about the future of education in our country. I really enjoyed it. If you are interested in this topic I would highly recommend it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting answers for education October 28, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book that clearly shows how to bridge the achievement gap by someone who did not have an agenda to skew the results. Mr. Shyamalan hired professionals to review the research and visited schools that had been successful in helping children of poverty to compete academically and succeed in a world that discounted them. This book didn't just describe the ills of today's public education systems, but provided a formula for remedy. As an educator, I have not been this excited about a book about education in a long time.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Contains interesting research September 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author had a number of people looking for research on the subject of improving schools. As we have already recently learned, charter schools aren't any better than public schools. What makes a school better or worse has nothing to do with the source of the funding, and, by extension, doing anything that takes money from the local public school will adversely affect public schools.

So what does work? The author found out one thing that was counter intuitive. Apparently smaller classes don't work, but smaller schools do work. Although his point could have been made more clear, this is essentially because the principal has more time to visit every classroom, help improve each teacher's skills, and monitor each teacher's progress. The principal should have an executive assistant in charge of schedules, building maintenance, etc. so the principal can devote full time to teacher improvement. If a teacher seems beyond help, he or she must be released, but teachers, on the whole, care deeply to improve their skills. A principal's chief job should be learning how to help his or her teachers.

Another interesting fact turns out to be that, if income levels are split out of the statistics, it is the poor neighborhoods where a lot of learning is lost over summer vacation. While middle class children are going to the library and learning new skills such as tennis or sailing, poor children are at home watching TV. We would get the biggest bang for our school dollars by establishing summer schools in poor neighborhoods.

There are many good books about improving schools, and this is only one of the many good ones.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy read with some interesting data and thoughts October 1, 2013
For those who are interested in dialogue, and not a one-sided conversation, I recommend this book. It's not a perfect representation of all research, because no book could ever cover ALL education research, however the author and researchers make it quite clear that they are only interested in finding which reform methods have the most impact in "closing the achievement gap." I find this helpful, because there is so much evidence to support all sorts of reform tactics-such as small class size- however no one ever discusses the impact one method has in comparison to another. The achievement gap in this country is a serious matter, and this book makes a case for focusing on the methods which will help us make the largest gains, as opposed to the methods which may only see small gains. I also appreciate that the book is completely focused on empirical evidence, and not focused on tearing down well intentioned people. Everyone has the right to care and learn about issues they're not "experts" on- citizens, philanthropists, celebrities-even if every book on education was written by an educator, we wouldn't necessarily know what works in closing the achievement gap unless all those educators agreed on everything, and looking at the current reform climate, we know that just isn't the case. Some teachers are pro-charter, some are for certain curriculums, some want merit-based-pay, and just as many don't. It appears that M. Night Shyamalan put in the time ( 5+ years) to learn from those who have spent their life doing this work, and I think what he came up with is worth the read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I applaud Mr. Shyamalan for devoting time and resources to exploring education in the USA. He decides that leveling economic status and poor family situations are items his book cannot address. Fair enough. So, he goes on to see if schools can counteract these socio/economic influences on their own. Actually, he primarily looks at charter schools to see if this can be done since his test data seems to show improvements only at these schools. Public schools, which are handicapped because they must accept all students, are not discussed much. At first his data finds charter schools do not do much better than public schools. But then he discovers a few charter schools that have encouraging standardized test scores. This would seem to indicate these schools have discovered the programs and procedures to help close the gap.

At this point, I expected him to go microscopic on the data from these schools--check the testing accuracy; talk to the teachers, parents and students; put the schools through the ringer. But, he seems to eschew his earlier broad analytical approach, and rely largely on the owners and administrators of these schools for confirmation. I wondered if these charter schools were inclusive? Are their high graduation rates the result of expelling poor performers? Are ESL and special needs students part of the population? I don't recall these questions being thoroughly explored.

I found his initial approach, insisting on multiple data sources and critical analysis, refreshing. However, his personal contact with charter school owners, their senior staff, and also university researchers--meals with these people and his celebrity appearances at their charter schools--gave me the impression his liking for these people and his acceptance of their data could be linked.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Synergy at work in Education
Read the teaser article for the book during an airplane flight. I've been interested in Education for a while. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Anthony Vancampen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
well written and informative
Published 10 days ago by James R. Hansen
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for educators!
Every educator and school administrator MUST READ this book! It was incredible and really changed how I viewed education!
Published 12 days ago by Amy J. Adamski
3.0 out of 5 stars Musings
This book was recommended to me. Someone purchased it for me.
The ending was too abrupt. There are difficult steps to take if we want to raise achievement. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dolores Mohammed
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Ok read
Published 1 month ago by Patrick T. Copeland
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent treatise on how to improve our Education Syste
I found what was written to be well thought out and provoking. I would like to see this book given to all Principles and to the Board of Education in each County of our State. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Herbert Vogel
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read.
Published 2 months ago by Tom Sawyer
5.0 out of 5 stars incredibly informative
This book, in a very reader-friendly but highly informative and well documented way, offers clear principles for how to move forward with educational opportunities for all our... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Fr. Dennis
4.0 out of 5 stars I was surprised to find that Shyamalan's conclusions supported my ...
I was surprised to find that Shyamalan's conclusions supported my own. This is an engaging examination of how to improve our schools that actually relies on an examination of the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Cynthia
4.0 out of 5 stars "Imagine what it would be like if your basic family practitioner in a...
Enjoyable book. It's enlightening to see someone explore a field that's totally different from his own. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dr. Cathy Goodwin
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