A leading expert shows how, by learning from refugee teachers and students, we can create for displaced children—and indeed all children—better schooling and brighter futures.
Half of the world’s 26 million refugees are children. Their formal education is disrupted, and their lives are too often dominated by exclusion and uncertainty about what the future holds. Even kids who have the opportunity to attend school face enormous challenges, as they struggle to integrate into unfamiliar societies and educational environments.
In Right Where We Belong, Sarah Dryden-Peterson discovers that, where governments and international agencies have been stymied, refugee teachers and students themselves are leading. From open-air classrooms in Uganda to the hallways of high schools in Maine, new visions for refugee education are emerging. Dryden-Peterson introduces us to people like Jacques—a teacher who created a school for his fellow Congolese refugees in defiance of local laws—and Hassan, a Somali refugee navigating the social world of the American teenager. Drawing on more than 600 interviews in twenty-three countries, Dryden-Peterson shows how teachers and students are experimenting with flexible forms of learning. Rather than adopt the unrealistic notion that all will soon return to “normal,” these schools embrace unfamiliarity, develop students’ adaptiveness, and demonstrate how children, teachers, and community members can build supportive relationships across lines of difference.
It turns out that policymakers, activists, and educators have a lot to learn from displaced children and teachers. Their stories point the way to better futures for refugee students and inspire us to reimagine education broadly, so that children everywhere are better prepared to thrive in a diverse and unpredictable world.
Despite the progress made in the past years, I see every day how refugee children are at a grave disadvantage when it comes to education. Through decades of careful research, Dryden-Peterson shows us why education for refugees matters, both now and for their futures, and what we can do about it.
This magisterial volume lifts the voices of refugees around the world to advance the future of learning in an age of crisis and displacement. Based on decades of research, Dryden-Peterson highlights the ways that governments, civil society, scholars, and global agencies alike can learn from refugee communities to build more inclusive and humane education systems.
‘What do you need the most?’ I often ask refugees in war zones. ‘Better food, water, or health care?’ ‘Give us education for our children,’ they answer. Dryden-Peterson’s excellent and must-read book tell us why parents and grandparents prioritize schools above all else: Education is hope.
How can the refugee learn what she needs to stay, to migrate, or to return to her homeland? In Dryden-Peterson’s Right Where We Belong, the need for and definition of refugee education is made more meaningful and urgent through her telling of important human stories—of struggle, witness, and growth.
I went to school during a war. Now I train teachers of refugees. This well-researched, inspiring book is a must-read for all teachers and policymakers, as we create ways to support our students to learn and have hope, even in the most challenging situations.
A rare book of immense depth, wisdom, and beauty. Millions of children are growing up amid the grave crises of our times: war and terror, unchecked climate change, and malignant kleptocratic states. Dryden-Peterson tells their story with empathy and heart but also with a keen eye for the details that point to the greater truths of refugee lives in cities and camps, in schools, and at homes around the world. This is the book for our times: urgent, brilliant, indispensable.
Right Where We Belong is a rich painting of the human stories of refugees woven together with the factual context needed to understand, and feel, their world. Few authors could maintain the intellectual rigor necessary to tackle a topic of such emotional concern while also being fair to the international actors we urgently need to act. If you want to understand how to vividly describe complex social science research with humanity, read this book. If you want a master class on using cross-disciplinary methods of analysis for multifaceted problems, read this book. And, most critically, if you want to feel these young people’s yearning for a better future and understand the barriers to reaching that future, read this book.
Pertinent and urgent. It makes a compelling case for rethinking refugee education in ways that foster belonging for refugees and reinforce the duties and commitments of states, organizations, communities, and individuals toward them.
An engaging read…The connections made between the curriculum and access to education and the resulting possibilities that refugee pupils have in their futures are unique, suggesting further ways that education can influence where individual refugees may be able to live, work, and belong in future.
- 272 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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