14 SES 08 B, Educational Research and Schooling in Rural Europe: An Engagement with Changing Patterns of Education, Space and Place (Part 1)
Symposium to be continued in 14 SES 09 B
This two-part symposium responds to ECER Net 14’s Special Call, ‘Rural Schools as Hubs for the Socio-Educational Development of the Community’. It includes six papers from six nation states spanning Europe from north to south and east to west. These represent different political, economic and social systems, within a Europe currently grappling with unprecedented social challenges. Inevitably, then, it presents both pessimistic and optimistic perspectives on the role of the rural school as socio-educational hub of the community. In contrast to the well-worn discourse of rural deficit and decline, the special call envisages rural schools and their communities as co-constructors of positive change and regeneration. For rural researchers the task is not only to improve the visibility of rural research (Kvalsund & Hargreaves, 2009), but, according to Corbett’s (2015) ‘rural sociological imagination’, to find arguments and report evidence that reinforce positive initiatives and actions that challenge ‘metrocentric’ policies and images of an ‘entrapped’ rural population. The papers in this symposium contribute to the realisation of this aim, while recognising some rural realities.
The rural school systems represented here exemplify various points of progress towards the less polarised, more interactive rural-urban dimension envisaged in the Call. Some, such as Spain and Finland, recall past school closure programmes with no regard for the concerns, let alone ‘memories and histories’, at school and/or community level. But these papers here also reveal examples of local and regional governments valuing and respecting their rural schools and communities. In Serbia, on the other hand, rural children are badly disadvantaged, and rural schools lack representation at national level. Nevertheless, the authors can see potential for improvement. The authors in this symposium come from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including sociology, geography, psychology, ethnography, and education with refreshingly different ways of conceptualising the issues they address. Collectively, they respond to the following slightly modified, questions in the special call:
- Do, and if so, how do local organizations (including local government) summon the contribution of the schools, in the rural context?
- To what extent can rural schools in their different socio-political contexts, promote the appreciation and nurture of local memories and histories, the ability to think together about difficulties and seek new ways of improving the territory, the use and potentiation of local (natural, cultural, human, tangible and intangible) resources, and the democratic participation in decision-making processes at the local level?
- How can different research disciplines contribute to this discussion?
Part I illustrates tensions between central and local government actions on rural schools. In Paper 1, Vigo and Soriano provide a historical take on the dramatic swings in policy on rural schools in Spain since the 1970s, and the positive attitudes to rural schools in some autonomous authorities. Trnkova presents the perspectives of the mayors of small and/or isolated rural settlements in Czechia, showing their broad concerns for children and community, beyond costs alone. In Paper 3, Pesikan and Antic provide unique insights into the situation of rural education in Serbia, making a case for initiatives to improve rural children’s experience.
Part II focuses on recent changes in rural contexts. Tantarimäki discusses how differing local municipalities in Finland are managing their school networks, to incorporate a wider range of services (social, health, etc.) with education. Solstad and Solstad report surveys in 2005 and 2015 on the effects of school transportation in rural Norway. They find shifting criteria for school closures, and negative consequences for children’s health. Finally, Hillyard and Bagley explore rural headteachers’ roles in contemporary contexts of ‘the village’ in England, which oust traditional perspectives.
Corbett, M. (2015) Towards a rural sociological imagination: ethnography and schooling in mobile modernity, Ethnography and Education, 10:3, 263-277, DOI: 10.1080/17457823.2015.1050685 Kvalsund , R. & Hargreaves, L. (2009). Reviews of research in small rural schools and their communities : Analytical perspectives and a new agenda. International Journal of Educational Research, 48(3). 140-149.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.