14 SES 07 B, Rural Schools as Hubs for the Socio-educational Development of the Community (Part 4)
Symposium continued from 14 SES 06 B
In many rural locations, seasonal farm workers play an important economic role. The contributions to annual harvests, along with the money that they spend in the communities where they reside temporarily, enable farming communities to survive economically. However, research shows that farm workers and other temporary residents are often marginalised in rural communities and feel as though they are outsiders who do not belong (Henderson, 2005; Kenny & Binchy, 2009; Remy Leder, 2009). This paper focuses on a rural community in Australia. When data were initially collected, large numbers of itinerant farm workers resided there during the winter harvesting season, sending their children to nearby schools. Deficit discourses about the farm workers and their families circulated in the community and its schools (Henderson, 2008, 2009). However, several years later when another research project was being conducted in one of the schools, the principal and deputy principal indicated that they were making a concerted effort to invite parents – those permanently settled in the community as well as those residing there temporarily – into the school. They wanted to make the school a welcoming place for the many mobile families who continued to arrive in the town. This paper, then, uses the data collected in that research project to answer address two questions: How did the teachers in the school translate the overall aims of the principal and deputy principal into their classroom practice? And did these strategies, at both whole school and classroom levels, seem to be effective in building school-community relationships? The research was conducted from the school’s perspective, with the researcher conducting semi-structured interviews with teachers and other school personnel, along with observations in classrooms and the school more generally. Fairclough’s (2001) text-interaction-context model was used to frame the research, enabling the theorising of the relationships that the school had developed with mobile families, including itinerant farm workers, whose children enrolled at the school. The data demonstrated that school personnel believed that making sure that students and families felt a sense of belonging in the school was critical to academic success. The paper will present some data and data analysis, and it will finish with a discussion of how this one case study can offer a guide for other schools regardless of location, whether in Europe, Australia or elsewhere. It will consider the possibilities for pushing against dominant deficit discourses and building relationships between school and community.
Fairclough, N. (2001). Language and power (2nd ed.). London: Longman. Henderson, R. (2005). An invasion of green-stained farm workers from outer space(s)? Or a rural community struggling with issues of itinerancy? Education in Rural Australia, 15(1), 3-13. Henderson, R. (2008). A boy behaving badly: Investigating teachers' assumptions about gender, behaviour, mobility and literacy learning. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 31(1), 74-87. Henderson, R. (2009). Itinerant farm workers' children in Australia: Learning from the experiences of one family. In P. A. Danaher, M. Kenny & J. Remy Leder (Eds.), Traveller, nomadic and migrant education (pp. 46-58). New York, NY: Routledge. Kenny, M., & Binchy, A. (2009). Irish Travellers, identity and the education system. In P. A. Danaher, M. Kenny & J. Remy Leder (Eds.), Traveller, nomadic and migrant education (pp. 117-131). New York: Routledge. Remy Leder, J. (2009). Conclusion: Whither changing schools? In P. A. Danaher, M. Kenny & J. Remy Leder (Eds.), Traveller, nomadic and migrant education (pp. 214-220). New York: Routledge.
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