Kid Quixotes: A Group of Students, Their Teacher, and the One-Room School Where Everything Is Possible

HarperOne. Apr. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780062934062. $27.99. ED
Still Waters in a Storm, a one-room schoolhouse in Bushwick, Brooklyn, serving Spanish-speaking immigrant children, was a safe space—both for the students who went there after school and for its founder, Haff, a teacher battling bipolar depression. Under Haff’s guidance, the students, who ranged in age from five to 17, embarked on a five-year project to translate Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote into English and turn it into a musical. Since their language and written skills differed, they had to listen to one another carefully and work together, adopting a version of what psychologist Lev Vygotsky called “scaffolding,” or collaborative learning. Despite the threat of ICE agents and deportation, the students persevered, performing their work throughout New York. Haff structures his stirring, poignant narrative much like Don Quixote, incorporating poems, songs, and dialogue; inserting stories within stories; and illustrating that even seemingly disparate tales are connected.
VERDICT This is an inspiring account that reminds us that with trust and empathy, there’s no limit to what students and teachers can accomplish together.
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