Schools Celebrating Place and Community
A study of Two Rural Schools in Bangladesh and New Zealand
This paper, by a Bangladeshi and a New Zealander, brings together narrative inquiry studies of the leadership initiatives in two quite different rural schools, in Bangladesh and New Zealand respectively. The schools are in communities that might be considered as significantly underprivileged, and generationally alienated from education, within their own countries. Those communities, however, have richness of different kinds. The schools have explored and found ways of connecting with that richness and their experiences can offer ideas to others in diverse locations, including the urban. Both cases are sites of an adventurous approach to meeting the needs of their students. Both illustrate how a rich learning environment can be created when the needs, aspirations and resources of the local environment and community are investigated, attended to and utilised.
The paper reports the context and innovations in both schools. In doing so it highlights the dangers of homogenising national curricular concepts that ignore the importance of place and the emplaced identity of communities. It questions where a deficit lies: is it in the local rural community and its school or in national,and global systems thinking that ignores the significance of the local and particular? It also suggests that the place-based approaches in these two schools offer useful contributions to some of the challenges of education – in urban as much as rural settings - in a world that faces possibly extreme change.
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