14 SES 03 A, Schooling in Rural Settings
Based on two cases of ethnographic studies in two different remote areas in Denmark, this paper deals with the conflict between the school as a means to social mobility out of the local area and the school as resource for what I call "perma-local mobility" i.e. mobility within the local area.
In some ways schools with their national orientation and implicit effort to support geographic mobility represent a threat to the coherence and consolidation of the local community and its ways of life. As Michael Corbett (2007) has pointed out, national school curriculum tends to support geographical mobility away from local areas because success in school usually lead young people to attend youth education programs in urban settings. This implies that those who stay back often have experiences as schools failures becoming unskilled labors or dependent on social welfare. Seen from the perspective of these children they have had little benefit from school attendance as they have merely learned to become losers in a national educational system. Although they often succeed to stay in their community, their school trajectory has often left them with few resources to invest in local development.
Instead of merely being failures, their lack of academic success can, however, also be considered as a sort of counter reaction or outright resistance to the imperative of social and geographical mobility. From such a perspective, the national school curriculum in remote areas has next to nothing to offer these children in terms of locally orientated qualifications or hopes. Schools don’t encourage qualifications specifically relevant for those who seek to stay full grown participants in the local community and such children will, thus, find themselves attracted to alternative values and commitments often by distancing themselves to the established norms of the school. The aim of this paper is to focus on such cultural and social dynamics that make some children want to stay by developing other orientations, engagements and roles for themselves in the local land- and socioscape. As participation in the "learning-to-leave" curriculum evidently doesn't serve these children’s aspirations, the paper discusses how local school curriculums can help pupils with local aspirations and interests to be educated to learn to stay and become successful on local terms rather than to leave.
The paper will discuss the possibility that schools in remote areas can play a role in developing the sustainability of local communities through their investments in a variety of educational strategies some oriented towards national standards, some more focused on local dynamics, coherence and development. The paper will discuss the possibility of a more local innovative approach by which rural schools also can support and underpin social mobility and development within the local community rather than having a high number of pupils leaving for further education and positions elsewhere as a prime criterion of success.
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