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Discussion Module

Schooled by Gordon Korman

Schooled
b
y Gordon Korman

Publishing Information: Hyperion Book for Children: New York, 2007
ISBN: 9780786856923 / 978142310169 (PB)
Pages
: 224 p.
Ages: 10 & Up

Summary:
Homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television, tasted a pizza, or even heard of a wedgie. But when his grandmother lands in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a guidance counselor and attend the local middle school. While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school.

Book Talk:
Capricorn Anderson only knows life on a hippie commune with his grandmother, Rain. Through years of homeschooling, Cap knows how to grow the food and how to practice the art of Tai-Chi. But he has never watched TV nor had a friend his own age. When Rain is injured, Cap is required to attend the local middle school. When he is mysteriously elected class president, Cap assumes that the students like and trust him. What he doesn’t know is that it is tradition to choose the biggest nerd student to act as class president and wait for him/her to fail. Will he fail as most expect or will he be the best 8th grade class president that Claverage (C-average) Middle School has ever known?

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Bullies
Communes
Home Schooling
Individuality
Middle School
Hippies
Popularity
School Stories

Awards & Reviews:
Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Award Nominees, 2010
Sequoyah Award Nominees, 2010
South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominees, 2010
Texas Lone Star reading Lists, 2008

Booklist¸ August 1, 2007, p. 71 (Starred Review)
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007
School Library Journal, August 1, 2007, p. 118
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates
, October 1, 2007


Discussion Questions and Ideas:
Questions:

  1. Pretend that Zach and Cap were switched at birth. How do you think their personalities would (or would not) be different?
  2. Change is a big theme throughout the book. Choose a character, and cite significant changes within him or her during the course of the story.
  3. How would you react if a student like Cap walked into your school?
  4. What was the author trying to accomplish by adding the character Hugh to the mix of characters?
  5. Do you think buying Sophie the bracelet and pretending that it was from her father was the right thing for Cap to do? Why or why not?
  6. Why do you think Hugh turns on Cap toward the end of the story?
  7. On page 192, Naomi shares, “I wasn’t a nice person … then I started watching [Cap]. He showed me a whole different way to be.” Discuss a person in your life who has had a similar positive impact on you.
  8. Why do you think Floramundi left Garland all those years ago?
  9. What do you predict would happen in a sequel to Schooled?
  10. Why do you think Korman chose to tell the story through the eyes of each character rather than just sticking with one person’s point of view throughout the story?
  11. Explain the type of life Cap has bee leading at Garland. How is his life about to change dramatically? Have you ever daydreamed about being homeschooled? What do you think it would be like?
  12. Where does Cap land while his grandmother, Rain, recovers? What so you think would be the most difficult thing for an outsider to understand about middle school life?
  13. How is Cap treated by Sophie, Zach, Hugh, and Naomi? How do people decide whether to be cruel or kind to someone who is new? Do you blame Sophie for her reaction to him? Would you want Cap to be living in your house?
  14. Hugh realizes that if weren’t for Cap he would be low man on the totem pole. “Better him than me” (page 32) do you think this is the theme of middle school? Do students put up with their peers being bullied because they’re afraid it might be them next?
  15. What prank does Zach plan for Cap? Do you think this could happen at your own school? Why do people go along with it? In your opinion who is worse – Zach of Naomi? Why?
  16. Cap is full of hippie wisdom like, “when you’re unkind to others, it’s usually because you don’t believe that you, yourself deserve kindness” (page 48) Do you agree with this statement? What about his other philosophical statements?
  17. What is the turning-point event for Cap that changes how people perceive him at school? Have you ever known someone who acted heroically?
  18. Why does Hugh think, “I was a worm, but at least I had the strength of character to be ashamed of it” (page 77) Does Zach realize that he’s being a worm too?
  19. How does Cap make a connection with Sophie? What common interests do they share? How does he try to make up for her dad’s thoughtlessness? Does it work? Have you ever acted anonymously on someone’s behalf?
  20. Mr. Kasigi admits, “I had long suspected how the kids went about picking their eighth grade president. And when I chose to look the other way, I was sort of putting a stamp of approval on it” (page 156) How does this decision blow up in his face? Can adults sometimes be complicit in the bullying that happens in school? Do you think Mr. Kasigi deserves what he got? Why?
  21. What happens a the pep-rally assembly? Would this happen at your own school? Have you ever experienced other examples of group mentality? What do the students at school ultimately believe happened to Cap? How is it resolved?
  22. Despite his experiences in middle school and his longing to return to Garland, once his is home, Cap suddenly misses his classmates and the chaos he has come to understand. How can some experiences change who you are? In the end, what do Rain and Cap decide to do? Do you think it is the right decision for Cap’s future? Why?

Activities:

  1. Cap has been home schooled by his grandmother. Make a T-chart to list the advantages and disadvantages of home schooling.
  2. Cap's grandmother is a hippy from the ‘60's. Interview someone who grew up during that time period and make notes about what this person thinks was significant about the time period.
  3. Create a new cover for this book based on a scene that you think would draw readers to the story.
  4. Write 10 rules for survival in middle school. What should every student know before entering the doors of your school? After you’ve written the rules, write a brief journal; about your experiences coming to understand the rules.
  5. Tie-dye, of course. Experiment with theis fun art form by trying out a variety of techniques. Wear your art proudly.
  6. Explore the music of the 60’s and 70’s. What artists were your parents or grandparents favorites? Which songs have lasted through the decades to become classics or anthems of the period? Explore Rain’s playlist of songs from the period below:
    1. The Times They are A-Changin’ – Bob Dylan
    2. The Weight – The Band
    3. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
    4. A Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum
    5. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
    6. Truckin’ – The Grateful Dead
    7. The Kids Are Alright – The Who
    8. California Dreaming – The Mamas and The Papas
    9. Ohio – Neil Young
    10. The Age of Aquarius – from the musical Hair
    11.  Wild Thing – The Troggs
    12. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
    13. Break on Through to the Other Side – The Doors
    14. All you Need is Love – Beatles

Related Websites:
Author's Website - http://www.gordankorman.com
Hyperion's Schooled Discussion Guide -
http://www.hyperionbooksforchildren.com/data/books/dgpdf/14231051681985.pdf
The Super Gordon Korman Fan Page - http://www.geocities.ws/Athens/parthenon/2562/gkframe.htm

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Other Books by the Author:
This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall, 1978
Go Jump in the Pool!, 1979
Beware the Fish!, 1980
Who Is Bugs Potter?, 1980
I Want to Go Home, 2008
Bugs Potter LIVE at Nickaninny, 1983
No Coins, Please, 1984
Don't Car High, 1985
Son of the Interflux, 1986
A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag, 1987
Zucchini Warriors, 1988
Radio 5th Grade
, 1989
Losing Joe's Place, 1990
I Want to Go Home, 1991
Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood
The Twinkie Squad, 1992
The Toilet Paper Tigers, 1993
Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road, 1994
Something Fishy at Macdonald Hall, 1995
The Chicken Doesn't Skate, 1996
HeavyArtillery: I Was Junior Seau, 1996
Liar, Liar Pants on Fire
, 1997
Quarterback Exchange: I Was John Elway, 1997
Running Back Conversion: I was Barry Sanders
, 1997
Superbowl Switch: I Was Dan Marino, 1997
The Sixth Grade Nickname Game, 1998
Ultimate Scoring Machine: I Was Jerry Rise, 1998
All-Mars All-Stars, 1999
Nose Pickers from Outer Space, 1999
The Stars from Mars, 1999
Cup Crazy, 2000
The Face-Off Phony
, 2000
No More Dead Dogs
, 2000 (2002 RITBA Nominee)
Planet of the Nose Pickers, 2000
Your Mummy Is a Nose Picker, 2000
Survival, 2001
Shipwreck
, 2001
Escape, 2001
Invasion of the Nose Pickers, 2001
The Contest, 2001
The Climb
, 2001
The Summit
, 2001
Son of the Mob
, 2002 (2004 RITBA Nominee)
The Discover
, 2003
The Deep, 2003
The Danger, 2003
Jake, Reinvented
, 2003
Max Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America, 2003
Son of the Mob: Hollywood Hustle, 2003
Born To Rock, 2005
Chasing Falconers, 2005
The Fugitive Factor, 2005
Now You See Them, Now You Don't, 2005
Public Enemies, 2005
Swindle, 2008
The Juvie Three, 2008
39 Clues: One False Note, 2009

About the Author:
Gordon Korman was born October 23, 1963 in Montreal, Quebec in Canada. He wrote his first book, This Can't be Happening at Macdonald Hall when he was 12 years old for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching 7th grade English … he later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in the Sixth Grade Nickname Game, where Mr. Huge was based on that 7th grade teacher.

His first book found a home with Scholastic, who also published his next 20 or so books, including six more Bruno and Boots titles, and several award winning young adult titles, among them my personal favorite, Son of Interflux. Scholastic still publishes many of Gordon's titles, though Hyperion Press is also now printing some of Gordon's stories.

Gordon eventually made one of his homes in New York City, where he studied film and film writing. While in New York, he also met his future wife, and they eventually married -- they now have three children. He now lives on Long Island, outside of New York City, has approximately 55 books to his credit, and is currently contracted for several more, including the six volume On the Run adventure series, and new young adult and children’s' titles.

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