Rural education practice and policy in marginalised communities:Teaching and learning on the edge

  • Jo-Anne Reid CSU
Keywords: Rural education, marginality, locational disadvantage, wicked problems, rural social space

Abstract

In this paper I focus on the problems that face (teacher) education policy and practice in meeting the challenge of ‘persistent and entrenched locational disadvantage’ in marginal communities.  In Dropping off the Edge 2015, Tony Vinson and colleagues (2015) clearly demonstrate that complex and entrenched disadvantage has continued to characterise a number of Australian communities, with few signs of improvement in the past 15 years. A very high proportion of these disadvantaged localities are in rural areas, and they pose an enormous challenge to policy makers and service providers, as well as to the people who live in the communities themselves.  In such contexts, education is both crucially important and inexorably difficult.  Agreeing with Vinson, Rawshtorne, Beavis and Ericson, that we need to understand locational disadvantage as a wicked problem for a social equity agenda (2015), I argue that the concept of Rural Social Space (Reid et al., 2010) provides a useful and coherent theoretical resource for understanding and addressing this problem, and rethinking the idea of community in ways that are necessary for change to occur. Using an exemplary case of one locality identified by Vinson as threatened with ‘dropping off the edge’, I examine what a wicked problem looks like for social equity in this particular rural social space, and how it calls into question some of our most cherished assumptions about rural communities and rural schooling.  The example allows consideration of the kind of policy and practice responses that may be necessary if the problem of educational disadvantage in rural locations is to be adequately addressed.

Author Biography

Jo-Anne Reid, CSU
Jo-Anne Reid is Professor of Education in the Faculty of Arts and Education, and the Presiding Officer of Academic Senate at Charles Sturt University. She began her career teaching Secondary English, worked as a curriculum consultant for beginning teachers in the WA Department of Education, and has had a long-standing involvement in teacher education. Since her doctoral work focused on teacher programming as a means for constituting both school and teaching subjects, her interest in the potential of post-structuralist theories of practice for rethinking education and diversity in post-modern society has informed her research and teaching.  She has won a range of National Competitive Grants over her career, several of which have focussed on English teaching, and teacher education, overseas-born and educated teachers, the career pathways of Indigenous teachers, as well as on literacy and the environment and rural teacher education.

References

Amin, A. (2002). Ethnicity and the multicultural city: Living with diversity. Environment and planning A, 34(6), 959–980.
Australian Public Service Commission. (2012). Tackling wicked problems: A public policy perspective. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/archive/publications-archive/tackling-wicked-problems
Boomer, G. (1993). How to make a teacher. English Education, 25(1), 3–18.
Bourdieu. P. (1999). Site effects. In P. Bourdieu et al., The weight of the world: Social suffering in contemporary society (pp. 123-129). Cambridge: Polity Press.
Boylan, C., & Bandy, H. (1994). Education and training for rural teachers and professionals. Issues Affecting Rural Communities. Proceedings of an International Conference Held by the Rural Education Research and Development Centre (Townsville, Queensland, Australia, July 10-15, http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED390603
Comber, B. (2015). Literacy, place, and pedagogies of possibility. New York and London: Routledge.
Corbett, M. (2014). The ambivalence of community: A critical analysis of rural education’s oldest trope. Peabody Journal of Education, 85(9), 603–618.
Davidson, M. E. (1988). Advocacy research: Social context of social research. In C. Jacos & D. Bowles, Ethnicity and race: Critical concepts in social work (pp.114–130). Silver Springs MD: NASW.
Fitzpatrick, S. (2016). Turning a bad town around. Inquirer: The Weekend Australian, September 10-11, p. 17.
Gardiner-Garden, J. (2014). Closing the Gap, Canberra: Parliament of Australia, http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary%20Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook44p/ClosingGap
Green, B., & Letts, W. (2007). Space, equity, and rural education: A ‘trialectical’ account. In K.N. Gulson & C. Symes (2007). Spatial theories of education: Policy and geography matters (pp. 57–76). London and New York: Routledge.
Green, B., & Reid, J. (2004). Teacher education for rural–regional sustainability: Changing agendas, challenging futures, chasing chimeras? Asia‐Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 32(3), 255–273.
Green, B., & Reid, J. (2012). A new teacher for a new nation? Teacher education, ‘English’, and schooling in early twentieth-century Australia. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 44(4), 361–379.
Green, B., & Reid, J. (2014). Social cartography and rural education; or, Researching space(s) and place(s). In M. Corbett & S. White [Eds], Researching Rural Education, (pp.26–40). New York: Palgrave.
Hyams, B.K. (1979). Teacher preparation in Australia: A history of its development from 1850 to 1950. Hawthorn: Australian Council for Educational Research.
Katz, I., & Raven, M. (2013). Evaluation of the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial. Indigenous Law Bulletin, 8(7), 19–23. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/IndigLawB/2013/29.pdf
Kelly, N., & Fogarty, R. (2015). An integrated approach to attracting and retaining teachers in rural and remote areas. Journal of Economic and Social Policy: Special issue on Digital Rural Futures, 17(2). http://epubs.scu.edu.au/jesp/vol17/iss2/1
Massey, D. (2004). Geographies of responsibility. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 86(1), 5–18.
Massey, D. (2005). For space. London: Sage Publications.
Massey, D. (2006). Landscape as a provocation: Reflections on moving mountains. Journal of Material Culture, 11(1-2), 33–48.
Mills, C., & Gale, T. (2010). Locating the research. In C. Mills & T. Gale, Schooling in Disadvantaged Communities (pp. 1–11). Springer Netherlands.
Morgan, G. (1991). Advocacy as a form of social science. In P. Harries-Jones (Ed.) Making Knowledge Count: Advocacy and Social Science (p. 223–232). Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press .
Nespor, J. (2000). Anonymity and place in qualitative inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry, 8(6), 546–69.
Nespor, J. (2008). Education and place: A review essay. Educational Theory, 58(4), 475–489.
New South Wales Parliament, 1904. Inquiry into certain educational issues. Joint volumes of papers presented to the legislative council and legislative assembly. Sydney: NSW Government Printer.
Reid, J. (2015). Teaching on the edge: Teacher education policy and practice for rural social space. Keynote Presentation for SPERA Annual Conference, Society for the Preservation of Education in Rural Australia, November, Geelong: Deakin University.
Reid, J. (2016a). Living and learning on the edge: Policy and practice for equity in rural social space. Presentation to Equity and Globalisation Theme, Western Sydney University Centre for Educational Research Autumn School, April, Penrith: Western Sydney University.
Reid, J. (2016b). Education on the edge: Research, policy and practice for social justice in rural Australia. CREd Oration, Centre for Research in Education, University of South Australia, November.
Reid, J. (2017). Learning the humility of teaching others: Preparing teachers for culturally diverse classrooms. In J. Major & C. Reid [Eds], Global teaching: Southern perspectives on teachers working with diversity (pp. 209–229). Dordrecht: Springer.
Reid, J., Green, B., Cooper, M., Hastings, W., Lock, G., & White, S. (2010). Regenerating rural social space? Teacher education for rural-regional sustainability. Australian Journal of Education, 54 (3), 262–276.
Rittel, H., & Webber, M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4 (2), 155–69.
Roberts, P. (2005). Staffing an empty schoolhouse: Attracting and retaining teachers in rural, remote and isolated communities. Surry Hills. New South Wales: New South Wales Teachers Federation.
Roberts, P. (2016). Place, rural education and social justice: A study of rural teaching and curriculum politics. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Charles Sturt University.
Roberts, P., & Green, B. (2013). Researching rural places: On social justice and rural education. Qualitative Inquiry, 19(10), 765–774.
Sarra, C. (2012). Good morning, Mr Sarra: My life working for a stronger, smarter future for our children. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press.
Skilbeck, M., & Connell, H. (2004). Teachers for the future: The changing nature of society and related issues for the teaching workforce. Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (NJ1).
Soja, E. W. (1989). Postmodern geographies: The reassertion of space in critical social theory. London and New York: Verso.
Sproull, L., & Kiesler, S. (1991). Connections: New ways of working in the networked organization. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Thomson, P. (2002). Schooling the rustbelt kids: Making the difference in changing times. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Vinson, T. (2007). Dropping off the edge: The distribution of disadvantage in Australia, Melbourne: Jesuit Social Services, Catholic Services Australia.
Vinson, T., Rawsthorne, M., Beavis, A., & Ericson, M. (2015). Dropping off the edge 2015:
Persistent communal disadvantage in Australia. Melbourne: Jesuit Social Services, Catholic Services Australia.
White, S., & Reid, J. (2008). Placing teachers? Sustaining rural schooling through place-consciousness in teacher education. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 23(7), 1–11.
Williams, R. (1985). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society, New York: Oxford University Press.
Published
2017-04-25
Section
JOURNAL PAPERS