The Flying Classroom

An educational co-design project with underprivileged kids


Expose children living in underprivileged communities to tools that would empower them to enhance their living environment


A group of educators, artists and designers travelling on a regular basis to deprived villages in Iran to design their schools with the students


Reza Bahraminejad (Director), Mojtaba Kelarestaghi (Executive director), Haleh Darabi (Graphic designer), Haleh Moaddabian (Doll maker), Mohammad Asheghi (Videographer), Reza Ravasian (Photographer), Shahrzad Beheshtian (Musician), Soudeh Doostbekheir (Graphic designer), Sara Saboonchi (Arts and Crafts), Shaghayegh Ghassemian (Ideator and designer), Zoya Niknam (Eco-tour leader)

Kids from underprivileged communities

Arcade Magazine, Issue 32.3

Mehr Giti Charity

Different parts of Iran


Reza Ravasian


“The Flying Classroom” is a volunteer project carried out in Iran from 2012. A group of artists passionate about social activism and art gathered to spread concepts such as beautification, sustainability, respect for nature in deprived regions of the country. The main focuses of the project were children and the main place for projects to happen was the school. In every trip, we went to an underdeveloped part of Iran for 4-5 days and held art workshops for students, and designed the school with their handicrafts.

This idea formed around allowing children to enhance their living environment without needing to move to big cities or help from “outside”. Besides the art classes, we talked to them about the notion of environment, self and expression, self-care and health. All of these put them in a situation to look at their surroundings and find opportunities to improve their situation.
Early on we decided to join the Mehr Giti Charity, a nonprofit organization that builds schools all around the country with funding from philanthropists. This collaboration helped with organizing the trips, staying independent, and protected us from common investigations of the government, not really though!

Different concepts for different regions

We gradually learned that we should not decide beforehand what the concept of the trip should be. Once we chose to go to a village called ‘Tokhme-baloot’ in Ilam -which means the seed of Oak- and based on our desk research we knew it is an area full of oak trees. So we decided to set oak trees as the theme of the trip. To our shock when we got down the bus in Ilam, there were vast meadows all over the place instead of Oak forests. Later we learned it’s because they don’t have gas and they have to cut the trees and use the wood for heat. There we changed the theme to be about saving the environment to keep native animals -squirrels and robins- in the area.

On our third trip, we went to a village – Hajiabad- near Birjand in the Eastern part of Iran. Because of the long droughts in that region, our concept was about water and rain. Along with the storytelling, health and music classes, we held workshops in which students made little fish dolls, Origami cranes and musical instruments that produced the sound of rain. With all of these artifacts, we made a “room of rain” in a hall in part of the school.

Did we really think it through?

I question the nature of this project and its unanticipated consequences in a paper, along with a detailed description of our trip to Ilam’s Tokhme-baloot village. A shorter version of this article was published in the Arcade magazine issue of Fall 2014.