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EDUCATION IN RURAL AUSTRALIA
Quantifying Access Disadvantage and Gathering Information in Rural and Remote Localities: The Griffith Service Access Frame
Dr. Dennis A. Griffith, Rural Education Research and Development Centre, James Cook University of North Queensland
This paper argues that a purely geographic classification is not the best way to determine objective measures of rural disadvantage in Australia. What is required is an objective, accurate, research-based and independently validated classification that can be used to inform policy decisions and strategies to improve the lives of rural and remote Australians, especially Indigenous Australians in these areas. The Griffith Service Access Frame (GSAF) was developed by the author, specifically to quantify the service access of population centres in rural and remote areas of Australia. The model allows any population centre in the nation to be scored according to its Population Size; the Time, Cost and Distance factors associated with accessing a given level of services; and the Economic Resources that the population can apply to the task of overcoming access disadvantage.
Responding to Isolation and Educational Disadvantage
A good deal of the rural education literature from the twentieth century routinely associates geographic isolation with educational disadvantage. As analyses have become more sophisticated, more attention has been given to the understanding of differences and specific needs exhibited by isolated communities and of ways of responding to these in a more focused way. This paper will provide a way of conceptualising the relationships between components of isolation (the concrete, tangible and actual, as well as the subjective, perceptual and constructed) and will examine ways in which various responses to isolation can impact on educational practices and outcomes. The paper will argue that there is, within this matrix of responses, a ‘sweet spot’ or optimal site for educational interventions that are designed to address disadvantage.
Whose School? Which Community?
Dr Andrea Allard, Faculty of Education, Deakin University
Dr Von Sanderson, Aboriginal Research Institute, University of South Australia
In this paper, we take up the theme, ‘The School as a Centre in the Community’ in light of a research project that we conducted in a remote community in South Australia in 2001. In this project, ‘Engaging Students In Education Through Community Empowerment’, we set out to explore with Aboriginal parents, Aboriginal students, teachers and representatives of the various agencies operating in the area how groups within the community understood the issues of early exiting Aboriginal students.
Where to for Place-Based Learning?
What role has ‘place’ in education?
School at the Center, a U.S. initiative that falls into the category of ‘place-based education’ has demonstrated significant improvements in educational outcomes while, at the same time, contributing to rural community development. To explore the transferability of the program to Australian conditions, The Rural Education Research and Development Centre at James Cook University, assisted with Federal funds, undertook to trial the School at the Center ideas in North Queensland. The trial showed that the ideas were transferable and had significant impacts on educational outcomes and student engagement; generated a deal of public interest in the media and in local communities; and promoted closer relations between teachers, students, their schools and their communities.
Following comments from some teachers involved in the trial about the lack of introduction of beginning teachers to such effective educational strategies, consideration turned to making the results of the trial available to institutions involved in pre-service training of teachers.
But teacher training programs do not have much room for new content to be added and, for new material to be really considered, there must be a strong academic and theoretical base for the initiative as well as the evidence that ‘it works’.
School at the Center is an example of place-based education. Therefore there should be a strong academic and theoretical understanding of what ‘place’ means to education. However, while place is considered in other disciplinary areas, its meaning for education appears to be largely unexplored.
The Rural Population Transformation and Education in Australia
David McSwan, School of Education, James Cook University
This paper aims to relate the Australia data on rural-urban migration and economic change to education. It illustrates that there has been scant policy attention to the fundamental role of education in the changing nature of Australia’s rural areas. Australia’s rural policy has been firmly driven by the massive political power of the rural industries and mining lobbies; the voice of rural communities being lost to the winds. Governments should be alert to the needs or rural Australia. Issues of social justice and equity are being raised and heard as never before and ordinary Australians are increasingly aware of, and cherish, our rural communities, our rural image, and or sense of ourselves as sharing a rural heritage. Recent data show that regional Australia, in favoured areas, is prospering. A number of policy considerations are canvassed with the conclusion that leading-edge information and communications technologies are an essential prerequisite if regional Australia is to prosper and metropolitan areas and the south-east are to avoid undesirable crowding. Isolated rural areas are more problematic and a policy approach to a sustainable future for them is not immediately apparent to the author.
The place and meaning of physical activity, physical education, and physical culture in the lives of young people living in rural Queensland
Jessica Lee, School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland
Young people living in rural and regional areas are often reported as being less physically active than are young people living elsewhere. An understanding of this phenomenon will inform policies and strategies to address this finding. One source of valuable information is a qualitative understanding of how social relations and cultural meanings influence young people’s opportunities and choices in relation to physical activity as told by young people themselves. It is envisaged that this information will inform the development of school curricula to engage young people and which will enable schools, community groups and governments to collaborate in meeting the needs of young people living in rural Queensland.
German Lutherans and the ‘English’: culture, conflict and building a one-room school in the Wimmera 1873-1881
Peter Rushbrook, Charles Sturt University
The paper is an edited version of a paper delivered to the ‘Country Schooling: Old Stories, New Lessons’ Conference at the University of Iowa, USA, 27-29 June 2002. It explores tensions between German and English settlers in establishing a one-room school in Murtoa, a hamlet in Victoria’s Wimmera district, between 1873-1881. The narrative reveals some broader themes of the period relating to the establishment of a state-based ‘Free, Compulsory and Secular’ education system, the challenges associated with building schools in remote rural areas, and the related hardships faced by teacher.
Partners and Pathways in Education: The Whyalla Model
Janet Sawyer, Business and Enterprise, University of South Australia Whyalla Campus
Pam Zubrinich, Business and Information Services, Spencer Institute of TAFE
John Carter, Business Education, Enterprise and Vocational Education, Edward John Eyre High School
This paper describes the educational relationships that have been established between three key educational institutions within the regional city of Whyalla in South Australia. Edward John Eyre High School, Spencer Institute of TAFE and the Whyalla Campus of the University of South Australia have formed a partnership to promote the educational pathways available in the area of Business Studies. The regional educational opportunities created will assist in retaining young people who wish to study in the business field as well as encourage graduates to remain within their local communities. This important initiative embraces the rationale of successful learning communities and aims to develop skilled professional business people who will become future leaders in business and enterprise and contribute to the economic and social success of regional South Australia.
Some links between economic and social changes in rural area and the need for reform in rural education
John M Bryden
This paper discussed the principal economic and social changes taking place in rural areas of the OECD countries, identifies some of the key future challenges they face, and proposes some necessary shifts in the system of education of children and young people if these challenges are to be addressed.
Jack Shelton, Program for Rural Services and Research, University of Alabama
Giving All/Reaping Rewards: An Account of a new graduate teaching in remote Indigenous community schools
Christine Trimingham Jack, University of Canberra
Heather Hitchon, Kulkarriya Community School
A number of remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory run their own independent schools. The communities are faced with a constant battle to recruit quality teachers to their schools and to attain a high level of literacy in their students. The 1996 National School English Survey reported that less than 20% of Year 3 Indigenous students met the reading standards with similar findings for Year 5 (Department of Education Science and Training, 1997). There is strong evidence that student achievement is significantly linked to committed and well-qualified teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2000). The Commonwealth Government National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy (NIELNS) Report 2000 stated that recruiting ‘good teachers’ who are culturally aware and who can implement ‘best teaching methods’ are key elements in raising the literacy standard of Indigenous students (Department of Education Science and Training, 2000).
Excellent teachers are in demand and teachers tend to choose urban schools and the amenities they offer rather than remote schools (Department of Education Science and Training, 2000). The problem is exacerbated by the high attrition rate of early career teachers with up to 50% choosing to leave the profession in the first three to five years of service (Manuel, 2003: 140). There is a need for research on why good teachers stay (Manuel, 2003:141) even more so in contexts which are often seen as challenging settings such as remote schools with Indigenous students.
The NIELNS has resulted in the implementation of a number of projects designed to raise the literacy levels of Indigenous students. This paper is a narrative account offering insight into the inner life, experiences and decision-making processes of a targeted new graduate (co-author Heather Hitchon) working in remote Indigenous community schools in Western Australia where one such project, the Scaffolding Literacy Program, is being used. It is a collaborative paper between the two authors, Heather and Christine who first met when Christine supervised Heather while she was completing her final professional experience subject (Teaching Internship) at the University of Canberra. The account indicates the deliate balance between an early career teacher in a remote setting wanting to rise to the challenge of teaching in a difficult setting and the ongoing tension between leaving and staying. It also illustrates the importance of a range of ongoing support as well as engagement in an effective teaching program to ensure successful teaching experiences in the early period of his or her teaching career.
Two cubed: A rationale for creating a community of professional learners at Charles Sturt University, Dubbo
Tony Loughland, School of Teacher Education, Charles Sturt University
Daryl Healy, NSW Department of Education & Training
Teacher Education needs to move beyond the limitations of existing pre-service and in-service courses. Instead, teacher education should be regarded as a career long process of professional learning ‘which takes place prior to and during pre-service, and continues through induction and in-service’ (Gore, 1995). An important step in this direction is partnerships between schools and teacher education institutions in initial teacher preparation. Many such partnerships already occur across states and institutions. This paper outlines a rationale for a teacher education course that seeks to achieve a partnership between Charles Sturt University Dubbo and the Department of Education and Training (DET) in NSW within the framework of career long professional learning for teachers.
The existing political climate with the restructuring of the DET bureaucracy as well as the proposed NSW Institute of Teachers presents a serendipitous moment for the establishment of such a course. The course would follow what the author has termed the ‘two cubed’ model of teacher education. That is, the first two years of teacher education in the university, followed by two years in school based teacher education (SBTE) with the final two years as a beginning teacher mentored by both the training and employing institutions. The initial teacher education course will be the Trojan horse that makes professional learning a formal part of the teaching profession as the interaction between the DET and Charles Sturt University creates professional learning opportunities for existing teachers. This professional learning will be linked strongly to the bioregion of the Murray-Darling Basin, thus addressing both the ecological and social sustainability issues of this region. As well, the qualification gained will be for K-10, addressing the needs of middle school students in central and high schools in the central west of New South Wales.
Beyond The Agricultural Paradigm in Regional and Rural Australia: Building Capacity to Create a Preferred Future
Janelle Allison, Centre for Rural and Regional Innovation, The University of Queensland
Jock Douglas, Wyoming, via Roma
Regional and rural Australia is undergoing significant change. Among the drivers for change are: (1) an emerging discourse on nature that challenges the agricultural centric view which has dominated regional and rural Australia; (2) transforming agricultural landscapes, which are increasingly multifunctional and complex; and (3) a search for a contemporary bush identity which is relevant and inclusive and which accommodates the diversity of views about rural Australia. The paper describes two illustrative initiatives: the Australian Landcare Management System (ALMS); and the Roma Bush Gardens Project (RBG). These initiatives have been developed to assist individuals and communities to learn – to develop awareness and understanding of the dimensions of change now effecting significant impact on rural landscapes. These initiatives provide examples of the basis to chart a new course, and to create and build individual and broader community capacity to enable regional communities to engage strategically with change and to consider an ‘unknown’ or new future through the promotion of environment and educational learnings.
Social Entrepreneurship and Partnerships with Regional and Remote Schools
Bernadette Walker-Gibbs, Faculty of Education and Creative Arts, Central Queensland University
This paper explores how notions of social entrepreneurship have inspired me to engage in innovative partnerships with two small rural schools in Central Queensland, Australia. I seek to explore practical ways in which to help rural schools contribute to the transformation of their schools, considering that we are now in an information-based society operating in a postmodern world where change happens quickly and continually.
The paper explores the mapping of the journeys undertaken both by the schools and by myself as a university lecturer, and analyses how the concept of social entrepreneurship is used to empower schools with these changes. I examine the two partnerships with local schools more closely in terms of helping the participants – myself included – become social entrepreneurs by deploying innovative problem solving strategies that can provide ways forward to help us to begin to revolutionise the regional and rural education ‘industry’ and in the process engage regional and rural communities.
Multilingualism and Local-Global Identities: Japanese Language Education In Rural Australia
Barbara Hartley, The University of Queensland
The purpose of this article is to examine the value accruing to a regional area in Australia from the location of an undergraduate Japanese language education program in a university in that area. The focus is on the manner in which the inclusion of such a program enhances the sustainability of the area. Sustainability is here defined as the resilience demonstrated by social subjects in the absence of the full range of services available in more densely populated and resource advantaged areas. Such resilience implies an ongoing capacity on the part of subjects to contribute productively to social and economic networks in the area. The discussion includes two cases of graduates of the program under review. On the basis of these cases, the argument is advanced that local regional and rural area access to a tertiary sector second language program offers a unique and valuable strategic dimension to the personal and professional development of social agents in regional areas and to the sustainability of these areas generally.
Adult Literacy Teachers in Central Queensland: A Discursive Positioning of Teachers, Policies and Funding in Regional, Rural and Remote Communities
R. E. (Bobby) Harreveld, Division of Teaching and Learning Services, Central Queensland University
The sociocultural markers of adult literacy teachers’ identities are significant for understanding the nature of teaching which is constructed through, and contingent upon, diverse geographical and systemic spaces – at once a dilemma and a strategy in promoting education in regional areas. This article reports on one aspect of the work of a cohort of 23 adult literacy teachers living in regional, rural and remote areas of Central Queensland. Discourse theory is used to frame the conceptualisation of one particular teacher’s discursive positioning of her work. The article concludes that the relationships between adults positioned as teachers and students can become a community resource with the potential for rural engagement and for transformation of social and economic capital in such communities.
Beyond the Divide: Individual, Institutional and Community Capacity Building in a Western Australian Regional Context
John Smyth, Texas State University, San Marcos
Barry Down, School of Education, Murdoch University
This paper describes the early beginnings and some preliminary theorising of the complexities involved in obtaining a clearer understanding of schooling for young adolescents in regional and rural settings. We explain how our thinking is developing around ways to approach some case study schools and their communities that are advancing on the idea of learning as a form of regional and rural engagement. The central theoretical construct is how educational ‘capacity building’ that engages young people works against the prevailing trend of increasing numbers of young people leaving school prematurely. This construct is illustrated by reference to the complex and diverse situations and needs of young people in the Kwinana/Rockingham area of the Fremantle/Peel Education District in Western Australia.
A Principal’s Perspective on Multi-literacies in an Australian Show Community: Implications for Learning as Rural Engagement
Catherine Fullerton, Queensland School for Travelling Show Children
Geoff Danaher, Faculty of Informatics and Communication, Central Queensland University
Beverly Moriarty, Faculty of Education and Creative Arts, Central Queensland University
Patrick Alan Danaher, Division of Teaching and Learning Services, Central Queensland University
The mobile community that owns and operates ‘sideshow alley’ in Australia’s agricultural show circuits has traditionally been marginalised in terms of formal education provision. However, the establishment of the Queensland School for Travelling Show Children in 2000 reflected the aspirations of show people and sympathetic educators that education for mobile groups can be enacted differently. This different educational enactment is explored through the conceptual lens of a ‘multiliteracies’ framework (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000), which is used to identify and value the complex and diverse forms of sense-making that the show people deploy. This paper focuses on the perspective of the Principal of the school, who was one of the interviewees in the research reported here and also the lead author of this paper. Analysis of these data indicates that formal learning that embraces and enhances multiliteracies is one significant strategy for promoting education productively – and potentially transformatively – in such communities.
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