From paradise to beyond: Geographical constructs and how they shape education in the 'bush'.

  • John Guenther Flinders University
  • John Halsey
  • Sam Osborne

Abstract

Schools in Australia are sometimes described, categorised and defined by their locations. These statistical geographical categorisations help to determine how funding is allocated. They help to determine the types of teachers that are recruited, what kinds of teachers are attracted, how they much they are paid. Geographical categories can create perceptions that sometimes end up as stereotypes in the minds of parents and students. At times remote geographical locations are associated with disadvantage. These kinds of categorisations tend to treat schools in binary terms, or on a linear continuum, which may also be associated with value judgements that can be misleading. For example, rural schools are often thought of as disadvantaged, while city schools are therefore advantaged. In this paper the authors argue that the categorisations described above are unhelpful, limiting, misrepresent and are often unwarranted. In this paper they draw from the descriptions offered by schools for the public that are presented on the My School website. They draw a line that starts in the Adelaide suburb of Paradise and runs through to the far north of South Australia. Along the line there is a mix of metropolitan, provincial and remote schools. In analysing this data from My School, they challenge the binaries and continuums associated with geographical labels and propose instead, based on geographical concepts associated with space and place, that schools could be better described in terms of socio-cultural and geographic diversity.
Published
2015-12-02