Synopses & Reviews
When North American kids picture a school, odds are they see rows of desks, stacks of textbooks, and linoleum hallways. They probably donand#8217;t picture caves, boats, or train platforms and#151; but there are schools in caves, and on boats and on train platforms. Thereand#8217;s a whole world of unusual schools out there!
But the most amazing thing about these schools isnand#8217;t their location or what they look like. Itand#8217;s that they provide a place for students who face some of the toughest environmental and cultural challenges, and live some of the most unique lifestyles, to learn. Education is not readily available for kids everywhere, and many communities are strapped for the resources that would make it easier for kids to go to school. In short, itand#8217;s not always easy getting kids off to class and#151; but people around the world are finding creative ways to do it.
In Off to Class, readers will travel to dozens of countries to visit some of these incredible schools, and, through personal interviews, meet the students who attend them, too. And their stories aren't just inspiring and#151; they'll also get kids to think about school and the world in a whole new way.
"Photographs, accessible prose, and personal accounts paint a portrait of innovative schools in this vibrant, globe-trotting guide. In post-Katrina New Orleans, students plant an 'edible schoolyard.' In Kenya, a school provides dowries for fathers in exchange, their daughters go to school for eight years, rather than marrying. Hughes's examples of grassroots education in action are inspirational and informative. Ages 9 13. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for Coming to Canada:
"The antithesis of a dry history book, Coming to Canada makes for interesting and informative pleasure as well as educational reading."
Quill and Quire
"Off to Class
is an easy-to-read yet detailed book that should, at the very least, be in every school library, if not every classroom and home."
Quill and Quire, starred review
Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner, 2012
Shortlisted for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award, Juvenile Non-fiction category, 2011
"Off to Class is an easy-to-read yet detailed book that should, at the very least, be in every school library, if not every classroom and home."
Quill and Quire, starred review
"The strong emphasis on humanitarianism will move, excite, and inspire those reading...Off to Class will encourage them to help to 'be the change they wish to see in the world.'"
School Library Journal
"Hughes's examples of grassroots education in action are inspirational and informative."
About the Author
Susan Hughes is a writer and editor, and has been writing both fiction and non-fiction childrenand#8217;s books for over twenty years. Her book Coming to Canada
was shortlisted for the Hackmatack Award and the Norma Fleck Award for Non-fiction, as well as the Red Cedar Book Award. She lives in Toronto.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Working With the Environment
Things like climate change, severe storms, natural disasters, and shortages of energy and other resources are in the news just about every day. What do any of these things have to do with schools? They can make it pretty tough to build schools, to get to them, or to keep them standing. Schools need to be part of the solution to these problems. After all, theyand#8217;re supposed to be about preparing kids for the future, so it would make sense for schools to help make sure there is a future. More and more schools are teaching students how to reduce their impact on the planet. Schools are also being built with sustainability in mind. In a lot of cases, building sustainably has the added bonus of costing less money. And that goes a long way toward building more schools and getting more kids off to class around the world.
Canada and#150; Dr David Suzuki Elementary School
One of the newest sustainable schools, built with both the childrenand#8217;s and the planetand#8217;s future in mind.
Bangladesh and#150; Boat Schools
An ingenious idea to ensure students donand#8217;t miss class during Bangladeshand#8217;s monsoon season.
USA and#150; Arthur Ashe Charter School
How schools in New Orleans are rebuilding and offering new hope to students in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Haiti and#150; Temporary Schools
Temporary schools set up after the devastating earthquake in January 2010 have helped kids cope with the disaster and brought education to students who didnand#8217;t have the opportunity to go to school before.
India and#150; Druk White Lotus
Built in one of the coldest inhabited places on Earth, the Druk White Lotus school used traditional building methods with sustainable materials to build a school that can withstand the harsh climate of the area.
Burkina Faso and#150; Gando Primary School
The son of the chief, who was lucky enough to receive a formal education, returns and teaches his community how to build a school made from local materials and provides and education for the children and practical skills for the adults.
Brazil and#150; Rainforest School
Students in this remote village deep within the Amazon rainforest learn how the choices they make locally can help save the planet globally.
Chapter 2: Changing Expectations
A lot of things can make it tough for kids to get to school, from remoteness to weather to natural disasters. But an even bigger hurdle is one you canand#8217;t see: peopleand#8217;s attitudes. In some cases, peopleand#8217;s beliefs keep a specific group of kids out of school, whether itand#8217;s girls or kids of a certain background or status. In other cases, kids donand#8217;t get the chance to go to school because no one seems to care if they make it or not. But there are schools and students challenging the status quo that allows some kids to go to school while others miss out. Theyand#8217;re taking the idea that every kids has a right to school, and theyand#8217;re finding inspiring ways to make it happen.
Nepal and#150; Shree Santi Primary School
The Shree Santi Primary School challenges the social castes that have kept thousands of Nepali children from receiving a formal education.
Kenya and#150; Naningand#8217;oi Girls Boarding School
A school that offers Maasai girls the promise of an education instead of the promise of marriage.
Iran and#150; Small School, Big Changes
This small school of just four students is having a big impact by helping change attitudes about further education for young girls in Iran.
China and#150; Cave School
The people of Dongzhong were struggling to keep their cave lifestyle alive, until a national television broadcast sparked interest in their way of life.
Uganda and#150; ABC School
From its beginnings of holding classes under a tree, the ABC School now has over 400 students, many of whom are AIDS orphans.
Cambodia and#150; Stung Mean Chey Center
The Stung Mean Chey Center offers kids living in the slums of Phnom Penh a free education.
Honduras and#150; El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza
This school offers children an alternative to joining one of the many street gangs found throughout Honduras.
Bhutan/Nepal and#150; Refugee School
A school offering hope and stability to 14,000 students displaced on the Bhutan/Nepal border.
Chapter 3: One Size Does Not Fit All
Some kids learn better outside of classrooms, in non-traditional ways. Some kids have families that are always on the move, so they have to choose between staying with their families or staying put to go to school. Other kids have to choose between spending their days in school and earning money. The thing all these kids have in common is this: they need schools to be flexible. For them, one size doesnand#8217;t fit all. And fortunately, some adults are starting to realize that all schools donand#8217;t have to look the same or work the same or teach the same. They donand#8217;t even have to be in a school building!
UK and#150; Hazelwood School
A school for kids with multiple sensory impairments.
Russia and#150; Evenk Nomadic School
Teachers travel by sled to the childrenand#8217;s nomadic camps in Siberia.
Thailand and#150; Portable Schools Project
A portable school made of bamboo that provides schooling to the children of migrant workers.
Canada/New Caledonia and#150;Virtual School
Going to school half a world away with help from the internet.
Various and#150; The Mobile School Project
A project designed to bring schools to street kids around the world, including countries such as Colombia, Bolivia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Cambodia, Romania, and Germany.
India and#150; Door Step
A school on wheels that picks up street children at set locations around the cities of Mumbai and Pune.
India and#150; Platform School
Classrooms set up on the platforms at a train station provide education to street children.
USA and#150; Grand Oaks Academy and#145;Unschooland#8217;
An American family built a treehouse school in their backyard to homeschool their children.