14 SES 07 B, Challenges and Opportunities in Rural Education Research
This presentation discuss two issues of rural change: 1) cultural reproduction and transformation in the local contex and 2) the importance and effect of schooling and education in rural society, especially how school can support the rural community in times of change.
Schooling and education serve as a vehicle for concerned parents who want to invest in their children’s future in the context of globalization. Due to this concern, the popularity of education and mobility are changing the social and cultural landscape as a majority of youngsters move to the main educational centers in the big cities and never returns, while the minority who remain only get shorter professional training. This pattern gives cause for concern as the area faces lower economic investments, dropping house-prices, and loss of jobs. Ironically, local, regional and national authorities meet these challenges with an even stronger emphasis on education and more investments in centralizing the educational institutions in the bigger cities.
In the area of my fieldwork, the population has decreased significantly and almost two thirds of the young generations migrate to urban centers to seek education. Of these, many find better living opportunities and spouses outside the rural area. Some wish to return to claim skilled jobs but find it difficult to find adequate job chances. Overall, many of the educated will not return.
Some remain local without education or with only short professional training. Few of these will be able to reproduce the lifestyles of former generations as traditional job opportunities disappear. However, national and global change create new possibilities in production, trade and service for people with skills. This leaves the area with a set of challenges, as the local level of education on average is lower than on a national scale and local companies and public institutions may find it difficult to recruit educated labor. However, some people without formal skills will be able to take advantage of the reduced competition from people with higher education while some uneducated will fall out of the labor market and become dependent on money from the welfare state.
In the presentation I will discuss potentials for local social mobility and reorganization of school curriculum. Drawing on examples from my fieldwork, I suggest that a new social configuration is developing, as the traditional elite and middleclass leaves for urban education and careers. I will argue that this is part of an informal reorganization of the local community whichcan point toward a future development of an inventive curriculum in local schools. If so there may be ways for local schools to compensate for the lack of reproductive strength among people who are neither eager to leave nor to aim for urban careers. Thus, local schools need not only work on terms of “detraditionalization” (Kenway & Kraack) and “learning to leave” (Corbett, 2008). By paying attention to the reproductive strategies of unskilled families with low-key ambitions, a radical local school curriculum (Chaiklin) could hel to develop and strengthen local traditions and values to support both the potentials of those without educational capital and the local community. I find this supported by my field data that suggest that local people without formal education actually can gain high symbolic capital on a local scale and by doing so are capable of renewing local life. By doing so people increase their respectability in the local networks and increase their social capital and their chances to secure their future in the local community. I will argue that this potential for local development calls for further research and investments and shall not be overlook by schools and authorities.
Corbett, M.: 2007: Learning to Leave: the Irony of Schooling in a Coastal Community. Eikeland, S: 1999.: New Rural Pluriactivity? Household Strategies and Rural Renewal in Norway. Sociologia Ruralis Vol 39, No 3, 1999. Kenway, J & Kraack, A: 2004: Reordering Work and Destabilizing Masculinity. In: Dolby, N. and Dimitriadis, G. (eds), 2004: Learning to Labour in New Times. Routledge New York. Langfeldt (ed), 2015: Skolens Kvalitet Skapes Lokalt. Presentasjon av Funn Fra Forskningsprojektet "Lærende Regioner. Fakbokforlaget. Bergen. Willis, P., 2000: Learning to Labour. Ashgate, Aldershot
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