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Kind words

Alice Williams, author of Bad Yogi

“A fascinating and funny account of a 30-something going back to school to find out what Australia’s cultural diversity means in the schoolyard. For every fearful parent who wonders if this generation of kids are alright – this book offers an emphatic and hope-fuelled ‘yes’.” 

Chris Bonnor, former principal and co-author of The Stupid Country: How Australia is Dismantling Public Education and What Makes a Good School (with Jane Caro)

“As principals we know some things about the peer culture of our students – but if you were/are like me we are often removed by choice and age from that world. So what if you could be a fly on the wall, in and around your school?

In the case of Middlevale High the fly is author Doug Hendrie. Doug is a creative writer, journalist, researcher and freelance foreign correspondent. He especially wanted to explore how race and culture is “hashed out” in our schools – to capture the “act of becoming”. So at the age of 36 Doug went back, by arrangement, to school – three days a week at Middlevale High (school and people’s names are changed to protect the innocents), a place with diverse enrolments – let’s face it, a place where Australia is made.

Each chapter is around 20 minutes, digestible and engaging chunks of school life often served up very raw. I wish something like this had been around 30 years ago. It’s Melbourne, but in a sense it is many other places. It is very 21st century, but it could have been the school of my childhood. It’s a public school, and could be many … public schools.

Doug concludes that he went to Middlevale High, hoping to find out the secret of Australia’s alchemy, migrant to local. “I found myself way out of my depth, moving through a parallel version of … a city I’d lived in most of my life and which I didn’t know at all”. In our educational and social lives not enough of us, me included, are prepared to go too far out of our depth. In this book Doug has done it for us. Go along with him – it’s a great read.”

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