14 SES 04 B, Rural Schools as Hubs for the Socio-educational Development of the Community (Part 1)
Symposium to be continued in 14 SES 05 B
For a long time, the understanding of the rural emerged in opposition to that of the urban, referring us to eminently agricultural spaces, non-industrialized, within rigid geographic boundaries. This oppositionist and dichotomous logic is problematic and frankly limiting, even in terms of how it is built on the negative: the urban is everything the rural is not, or cannot be (Corbett & White, 2014; Green & Reid, 2014). This imagining of the rural in terms of deficit, connected with the idea of poverty, low levels of productivity and socio-cultural shortfalls, is related to a concept of development as mere economic growth, with rural areas being commonly envisaged as deserted of ideas, achievements, projects and organizations (Canário, 1998). It seems relevant to introduce a discussion that can contribute to an ideological shift that, in turn, allows local actors to reimagine the contemporary rural context in relation with the world, in all its multi-functionality, mobility and (re)appropriation.
In this series of symposia, we discuss educational processes that are eminently trans- or multi-institutional; initiatives that don’t necessarily obey exogenously or arbitrarily defined curricula/agendas; that are defined and developed in close connection to shared and multi-directional learning processes; that favor intergenerational dynamics; that seek to occupy neglected space-times.
The projects and initiatives hereby featured summon the contribution of several locally-relevant organizations, aside from the schools: municipal/regional government, companies and citizens’ associations, and other groups associated with the community (Henderson & Gouwens, 2013). Rural schools, platforms for their communities’ socio-educational development, are, as the rural context itself, “true microcosms – not in these sense that they replicate, to scale, the structures (…) [that can be found at the macro level], but because they present themselves as contexts that are fraught with specific complexities and diversity, governed by their own organizations and relational logics” (Lúcio, 2011).
These are, thus, dynamic processes, building upon the local population’s needs and interests, and offering adequate, locally-based alternative directions. The process of change is materialized and led by the community itself, in a cooperative, committed and integrated approach. Local actors reflect on their daily action, operating across at least three levels: diagnosis (they analyze “what is missing”, “what is not working”, “what can be done differently”, etc.); programming and executing (in which they define goals and resources); and, finally, evaluating (predicting or discussing the possibility of broadening dissemination mechanisms, reprogramming strategies, reformulating premises and aims).
In addition to being a space of culture(s) and memories, the rural context is a space for living and experimenting. The rural world is heterogeneous, and cultural diversity is one of its most enriching features (Anderson & Lonsdale, 2014); it is also resilient, despite the difficulties that cross it, thanks to the will and the initiative of those who inhabit it (Donehower, Hogg, & Schell, 2012).
This series of symposia is interested in what Eriksen (2001) pens “studies of small-scale localities”, favoring the construction of a more comprehensive and complex glance at the several aspects of community life, as well as mapping the patterns of interaction.
The first of four thematic symposia pertaining to the theme of "Rural Schools as Hubs for the Socio-Educational Development of the Community", this session features contributions from Spain, Ireland, Australia and Germany, fostering the discussion of issues such as the role of ICT in rural schools and the broader community, the sustainability of rural regions and the role of schools and educational initiatives, the role of small rural island schools in the promotion of community viability, and the community educators and local educational coordinators' views on education as a socially organized and democratic process.
- Anderson, M., & Lonsdale, M. (2014). Three Rs for rural research: Respect, responsibility and reciprocity. In S. White & M. Corbett (Eds.), Doing educational research in rural settings: Methodological issues, international perspectives and practical solutions (pp. 193-204). London: Routledge. - Corbett, M., & White, S. (2014). Introduction: Why put the 'rural' in research? In S. White & M. Corbett (Eds.), Doing educational research in rural settings: Methodological issues, international perspectives and practical solutions (pp. 1-4). London: Routledge. - Donehower, K., Hogg, C., & Schell, E. E. (Eds.). (2012). Reclaiming the rural: Essays on literacy, rhetoric, and pedagogy. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. - Eriksen, T. H. (2001). Small Places, Large Issues: An introduction to social and cultural anthropology. London & New York: Pluto Press. - Green, B., & Reid, J.-A. (2014). Social cartography and rural education: Researching space(s) and place(s). In S. White & M. Corbett (Eds.), Doing educational research in rural settings: Methodological issues, international perspectives and practical solutions (pp. 26-40). London: Routledge. - Henderson, R., & Gouwens, J. A. (2013). Mobile farmworker families using cocoon communities to negotiate multiple lifeworlds. In M. Korpela & F. Dervin (Eds.), "Cocoon communities": Togetherness in the 21st century (pp. 105-121). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
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