Challenging Rural Stereotypes
Rural and remote students, schools and teachers are placed in stereotypical ‘boxes’ in ways that suggest they have problems that need fixing. The language that surrounds these problems are metrocentric biased and perpetuate persistent negative discourse (Ledger, Masinire, Delgado & Burgess (2021). For example remote First Nations students in Australia are often described as ‘disadvantaged’, ‘behind’ with ‘poor’ academic outcomes (Roberts & Guenther, 2021). Rural schools face ‘obstacles to success’ (O'Keefe, Olney, & Angus, 2012) that city schools do not. Staffing is often described as an ‘issue’ to be fixed: “Australia’s rural schools are still staffed with younger, inexperienced teachers, who do not appear to stay long” (White, Simone, 2016, p. 41). And parents are sometimes blamed for a lack of engagement with their children’s schooling (Lea, Wegner, McRae-Williams, Chenhall, & Holmes, 2011). While the metrics of the metropolis might support these views, the measures that determine the problematics of rural and remote education tend to place a veil over the ontological reality of what it means to be a teacher, student or parent engaged with issues of schooling for rural and remote students.
In this issue, we reflect on a historical AIJRE article by White, Lock, Hastings, Cooper, Reid & Green (2011) that introduces the concept of Rural Social Space to show the interrelated factors of economy, geography and demography of a particular place connected in and through social practice (p.4). We also read about three ‘issues’ for rural and remote students.
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