Choice-less choice for Rural Boarding Students and their Families
The term ‘choice-less choice’ in education arises from the ethical dilemma where parents are left with no option other than one they do not want to choose. In this article, we draw particularly from David Mander’s (2012) use of the term, where he applied it to First Nations students from Western Australia. In Australia, choice-less choice applies to many rural parents where the local school does not offer secondary education options. They must ‘choose’ a boarding option for their child, or another option such as moving their family to a location where there is a secondary school, or perhaps distance schooling. Other parents have a local secondary option, but this option may not result in Year 12 completion. Based on My School data, this paper uses Google Maps to spatially represent where, in very remote parts of Australia, parents have limited access to local secondary schools or secondary schools that rarely produce completions. The data from My School shows that in very remote areas, this choice-less choice applies to about 6500 students and their families. A further 13000 First Nations students and their families face choice-less choice because even though there is a secondary school in their community, the chances of completing are slim. To explain the latter phenomenon, we draw on Appadurai’s (2004) theory of ‘capacity to aspire’, which suggests that choices are culturally pre-determined and dependent on access to power. Finally, we consider the implications of choice-less choice and suggest how choice-less choice can be removed.
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