Spring 2019

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Learning to Stay: A Case for Place Based Education in Rural Schools…Aileen Davidson

To what extent has and does public academic education result in the marginalisation of rural people and lifestyles? How can we make public education work in rural areas?

The current public education system is urban-centered and academic-centered, leaving little room for rural cultures and contexts and devaluing vocational educational pursuits taken by many students. Through previous research as well as my own experiences, I conclude that public education can be a factor in the marginalisation and alienation of rural communities and students. I also see it as a contributing factor leading to the demise of many rural communities.

I believe that in many rural areas there is a large need to change how we teach in order to make school useful and accessible for all students. We need to make school work for these communities, rather than against them. This is true in all rural and urban settings, including Colony schools such as the one I am currently teaching in for my practicum. The impact on levels of engagement and where we place power and value shifts a great deal when we implement strategies such as place/community-based education, resulting in a bridge between schools and the community rather than barriers.

I grew up in a small farming community and attended a rural school. I came to Lethbridge to attend university, and found the switch from rural to urban life rather jarring. This has made me very interested in the differences between rural and urban cultures and contexts, and how this is impacted by our current education system. I believe one of the largest benefits of my rural upbringing is my sense of place and love for the outdoors. I hope to frame my future teaching around a sense of value and respect for the land and people around us.

Aileen is currently finishing her PSIII placement at the Wilson Colony Allenby School just outside of Coaldale and has learned immensely through the challenge of having grades two through nine in one classroom.