Cover image for Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century: Identity, Place, and Community in a Globalizing World Edited by Kai A. Schafft and Alecia Youngblood Jackson

Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century

Identity, Place, and Community in a Globalizing World

Edited by Kai A. Schafft, and Alecia Youngblood Jackson

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ISBN: 978-0-271-03682-3

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328 pages
6" × 9"
2010

Rural Studies

Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century

Identity, Place, and Community in a Globalizing World

Edited by Kai A. Schafft, and Alecia Youngblood Jackson

“This volume is a comprehensive examination of the understudied topic of rural education. The aptly placed emphasis in each chapter on the role of globalization and demographic change in contemporary rural America brings cohesiveness to the diversity of topics. The volume will likely have broad appeal to rural scholars and social scientists both within and beyond the field of educational research.”

 

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  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Sample Chapters
  • Subjects
Rural places and their schools have a long history of community-based traditions, political and cultural conservatism, and intergenerational construction of local and community identity. However, the face of rural communities, both in the U.S. and abroad, is being radically transformed by the economic effects of multinational free trade agreements, the proliferation of mass media and information technology, and educational reforms such as No Child Left Behind. These changes have presented new opportunities for rural people, as well as new challenges. Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century explores the practices that offer both problems and possibilities for the futures of rural schools and communities.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Genevieve Brown, Rebecca Bustamante, Gretchen Butera, Thomas Butler, Michael Corbett, Lisa Humphreys Costello, Stephen Crump, Jacqueline Edmondson, Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, Susan Faircloth, R. Evely Gildersleeve, Sarah Giroux, Susan Groenke, Aimee Howley, Craig Howley, Beverly Irby, Fatou Jah, Kieran Killeen, Patricia McDonough, John Morrissey, Jan Nespor, Paul Theobald, John Tippeconnic III, Kylie Twyford, and Kathy Wood.

“This volume is a comprehensive examination of the understudied topic of rural education. The aptly placed emphasis in each chapter on the role of globalization and demographic change in contemporary rural America brings cohesiveness to the diversity of topics. The volume will likely have broad appeal to rural scholars and social scientists both within and beyond the field of educational research.”
Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century is the best recent statement on rural education available.”
Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century is a must-read for any serious student of rural education. Co-editors Schafft and Jackson have brought together some of the preeminent scholars on rural education, and the result doubtless will be embraced as a significant and long-lasting contribution to the essential literature in this discipline.”
“Many of us think of rural life as hard and insular, constructed of repertoires of behavior and patterns of reasoning that are socially and culturally obsolete. The notion of a peculiarly rural form of education seems patently self-defeating. Why prepare students for an outmoded existence that will inevitably be eliminated by the salutary forces of modernity? In sharp and convincing contrast, the editors of Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century present rural life as uniquely nurturing and capable of calling forth and developing the most humane and creative impulses of rural people. Rural education that enriches this process is a salutary institution, indeed. However, the organization and outcomes of the rural world are under siege by the omnipresent and overwhelming forces of globalization. Until I read Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century, I thought the destruction of the best of rural life was inevitable. Now, however, I can entertain a faint glimmer of hope, for which I am grateful.”
“Because of [Rural Education for the Twenty-First Century's] high quality of research and its clear organization around three themes, the reader is able to understand and connect rural education issues, both their similarities and differences, with those of urban and suburban communities across the globe. This work and its organization will serve students well, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, who may not be familiar with the theory and practices of rural education.”

Kai A. Schafft is Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies at The Pennsylvania State University.

Alecia Youngblood Jackson is Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies at Appalachian State University.

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Rural Education and Community in the Twenty-first Century

Kai A. Schafft and Alecia Youngblood Jackson

Part 1: Spaces of Identity

1. Learning to Be Rural: Identity Lessons from History, Schooling, and the U.S. Corporate Media

Paul Theobald and Kathy Wood

2. Poverty and School Achievement in Rural Communities: A Social-Class Interpretation

Craig B. Howley and Aimee Howley

3. “The Drama of Their Daily Lives”: Racist Language and Struggles over the Local in a Rural High School

Susan L. Groenke and Jan Nespor

4. Fields of Discourse: A Foucauldian Analysis of Schooling in a Rural, U.S. Southern Town

Alecia Youngblood Jackson

Part 2: Placing Education

5. The Challenges of Student Transiency for Rural Schools and Communities in the Era of No Child Left Behind

Kai A. Schafft, Kieran M. Killeen, and John Morrissey

6. Wharf Talk, Home Talk, and School Talk: The Politics of Language in a Coastal Community

Michael Corbett

7. Globalization, Asymmetric Urbanization, and Rural Disadvantage in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sarah Giroux, Fatou Jah, and Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue

8. Teaching School in Rural America: Toward an Educated Hope

Jacqueline Edmondson and Thomas Butler

Part 3: Teaching Communities

9. Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities: Global Influence and Local Design

Susan C. Faircloth and John Tippeconnic III

10. The Golden Cage of Rural College Access: How Higher Education Can Respond to the Rural Life

Patricia M. McDonough and R. Evely Gildersleeve 11. Opening Their Eyes: E-Learning for Rural and Isolated Communities in Australia

Stephen Crump and Kylie Twyford

12. Advocating for English Language Learners: U.S. Teacher Leadership in Rural Texas Schools

Rebecca M. Bustamante, Genevieve Brown, and Beverly J. Irby

13. Growing Up Rural and Moving Toward Family-School Partnerships: Special Educators Reflect on Biography and Place

Gretchen Butera and Lisa Humphreys Costello

Conclusion: Economics, Community, and Rural Education: Rethinking the Nature of Accountability in the Twenty-first Century

Kai A. Schafft

List of Contributors

Index

Introduction

Rural Education and Community in the Twenty-first Century

Kai A. Schafft and Alecia Youngblood Jackson

The year 2008 marked the first time in human history that more of the world’s population was located in urban rather than rural places (United Nations Population Fund 2007). In the United States as well as across the globe, the history of development has been largely one of urbanization, rural outmigration, and the subsumption of spatial peripheries into the social, cultural, economic, and political spheres of the urban core (Krannich 2008; Lipton 1977; McGranahan 2003; White 1998). This long, steady process has been deeply etched into the history of rural education, and in the United States and elsewhere it has to varying degrees been directly abetted by rural education (Corbett 2007; Theobald 1997; Woodrum 2004).

Well over one hundred years ago, school reformers in the United States began to talk about what came to be known as the “rural school problem” (Kannapel and DeYoung 1999; Tyack 1972). Rural schools, these reformers argued, were too inefficient for the demands of a rapidly changing, urbanizing, and globalizing society. At the heart of the “efficiency” problem was local control: people in rural communities, reformers believed, were simply ill equipped to run their own schools and prepare students to be economically competitive and productive in a modernizing world. As Elwood Cubberley (himself an urban educational reformer) wrote nearly one hundred years ago, “Managed as it has been by rural people, themselves lacking in educational insight, penurious, and with no comprehensive grasp of their own problems, the rural school, except in a few places, has practically stood still” (1922, 102).

The solution, reformers like Cubberley concluded, was to make rural schools look more like urban schools: larger, bureaucratized, run by educational professionals rather than locals, and informed by the latest pedagogical knowledge. This legacy is now manifested for urban and rural schools alike in the form of school consolidation, the standardization of curricula and assessment, and the increased reliance on business models of school management (Engels 2000; Jo 2005; Lyson 2002; Tyack and Cuban 2001). As Gruenewald and Smith (2008, xiv) have observed, “Today the seldom questioned underlying assumption about the purpose of schooling is to prepare the next generation to compete and succeed in the global economy.” It is for these reasons that Corbett has argued that in rural areas schooling may be considered the “quintessential institution of disembedding” (2007, 251), as public education serves the economic imperative of capitalism by severing attachment to place and producing mobile, adaptable youth flexibly responsive to changing labor market conditions.

Simultaneously, increased political, economic, and cultural globalization has reshaped the global-local interface (Drainville 2004; Swyngedouw 1997) and, consequently, the identity of rural people and places (Bonanno and Constance 2003, 241). Rural people and places have likely never had the “closed” identities suggested by the community-based traditions, political and cultural conservatism, and generational discourses of sameness often described by rural community members (Bell 1992; Woods 2005). But as we enter the twenty-first century, the face of rural communities has nevertheless been radically transformed by the economic effects of multinational free trade agreements, the proliferation of mass media and information technology, and educational reforms such as No Child Left Behind that privilege standardized curricula and “high-stakes” accountability for test scores over accountability to the contexts of local people and places. These changes have presented new opportunities for rural people, as well as new challenges.

What does this mean for rural education? And what does this imply for the relationship between rural schools and the communities they serve? Historically, rural schools have served important roles as centers of social activity and cultural meaning, helping to maintain local traditions and particular identities of rural communities. They are sites of civic interaction and shared intergenerational identity and experience (Elder and Conger 2000; Lyson 2002; Peshkin 1978). Yet rural schools also paradoxically represent a direct challenge to local (rural) identity and community survival when embodying urban values and serving national-level economic agendas that largely dismiss the “inefficiencies” of rural places—and even the connection to place in general (Corbett 2007; DeYoung and Howley 1990; Edmondson 2001). This edited volume takes these issues as its point of departure and analyzes the multiple, competing discourses that vie for the identity of place—and therefore the institution of schooling—by exploring the practices that offer problems and possibilities for the futures of rural community members as well as the educational systems that serve them.

Organization of This Book

Our purpose in writing this book was to gather together in one volume a diverse set of voices and perspectives, including those representing educational theory and policy and educational leadership, but also scholars with backgrounds in sociology and rural sociology, demography, political science, and community development. While much contemporary educational research takes it as a given that the walls of the classroom or the school building largely describe the limits of the analytic focus, the work in this volume instead foregrounds the interrelationship between school and community, and how that interrelationship is shaped by the global-local context in which it is embedded. We believe that closely examining issues at the school-community interface demands an inherently multidisciplinary approach, one we have tried to model within the pages of this volume.

Readers will find that most of the chapter authors rely on qualitative methods (i.e., interviews, observations, and documents analyses) to examine school-community issues. We believe that one of the strengths of this edited collection is a focus on naturalistic inquiry “in the field” of rural places. Qualitative designs such as ethnography, case studies, phenomenology, narrative inquiry, and mixed methods are represented in the text. As such, many of the chapters in this volume build on the sort of critical scholarship instituted in educational research by the pioneering sociological work of Paul Willis (1977), who initiated the theoretically informed analysis of the micro-dynamics of life in and out of school in an urban British community. Several chapters draw explicitly or implicitly on the tradition of critical scholarship and resistance that Willis’s work established. While we acknowledge the contributions of objective, quantitative research in describing large trends and explaining or comparing certain variables that make up rural life, the authors in this collection take seriously the experiences and perspectives of rural people; they emphasize rural peoples’ views and voices as they are situated within their local places, while keeping a eye toward the global contexts in which rurality is constructed, experienced, and critiqued.

Finally, while the contributors to this volume focus primarily on rural school and community relations in the United States, also included are perspectives from Canada, sub-Saharan Africa, and Australia, among others, to introduce an international comparative focus, and to suggest some of the ways that global economic, social, and cultural change have reshaped the rural school-community relationship across multiple contexts.

Spaces of Identity

The volume begins with part 1, “Spaces of Identity.” The chapters in this section explore how rurality itself comes to be constituted as a discursive space, how rural and community identities are produced and reproduced, and how relations of power at local and supra-local levels shape how rural identity is constructed, negotiated, and challenged. Within these chapters, close critiques of these constructions of place-bound identities consider ways that rural education might provide opportunities for rural students to redefine place as something other than local geography, to craft alternative identities other than those imposed on them, and to encourage them to imagine worlds beyond their own.

In the opening chapter, Theobald and Wood employ a historical analysis to examine the construction of rural identity through popular and mass media, looking in particular at the ways negative stereotypes of rural identity are formed, and how cultural messages reinforce the associations between rurality, backwardness, and deficiency. Though they argue that anti-rural biases have roots that stretch at least as far back as seventeenth-century Europe, these stereotypes and negative associations are only strengthened by the proliferation of mass media and the globalized production and distribution of goods and services. “Though some may possess the ability to dismiss these messages,” they argue, “the very act of dismissing them becomes a part of the identity an individual builds. . . . Since the United States is synonymous with ‘progress,’ and progress is culturally defined as ever more urban growth and development, rural youth see themselves as nonparticipants in the American experience, at least until they leave their home and move to the city.”

Howley and Howley extend this discussion in chapter 2, examining the stigmas associated with the intersection of rurality and class. They argue that globalization “undermines the local commons from which local community is developed, creating conditions that make the social exclusion of already marginalized groups just that much more likely.” Far from deficiency, Howley and Howley argue that those generally identified as “the rural poor” are instead characterized by resiliency and remarkable productivity in their capacity to identify resources and manage their existence (see also Corbett, this volume). And yet the “othering” that rural people, and especially rural poor people, experience obscures this resiliency. Rural educators are positioned to help their students, and by extension the broader community, imagine different possibilities, “but they must do so on very different terms than those prized by the institution of U.S. schooling and the global political economy that increasingly sponsors it.”

The first two chapters are communitarian in their orientation insofar as they emphasize the social and educational potential of fostering and (re)building rural community. In each case the tension over rural community identity is framed principally at the interstices of the local and the global—the ways in which local (rural) actors negotiate individual and community identity in the face of economic policies, educational reforms, and cultural discourse that ignores, dismisses, or denigrates local and rural experience. The following two chapters in this section, however, complicate the discussion by regarding the tension over identity construction within community, examining how individual and institutional actors work to define the boundaries of local community and identity as a way of determining who is included and who is excluded.

Groenke and Nespor’s chapter explores how the use of racist language is employed by rural youth as a mechanism for establishing the boundaries of local identity—“from symbolically excluding outsiders and newcomers to the area, to subverting school administrators’ attempts to integrate the school discursively into the larger cosmopolitan school district by instituting a speech code, to policing intra-group identity among peers.” They argue that “rural spaces and identities of persons living in rural spaces are highly contested. . . . These negotiations and struggles unfold not only between local and global forces (the rural community and cultural and economic forces originating outside it), but among different factions within rural communities who may appropriate ‘global’ tools or imagery as readily as they embrace more familiar and ‘traditional’ local practices.” The authors conclude by suggesting that administrators cannot condone or ignore the use of racist language, but must also be aware of how actions on their part may inadvertently galvanize oppositional identities that draw directly on racist categories.

In chapter 4, Jackson, using a Foucauldian analysis of discourse, similarly critiques the ways that power and identity are constituted and locally negotiated. The analysis of power and discourse in the rural town of Garner is meant to reveal how the institution of schooling, which may be a site of powerful local control and autonomy, can also exist as a structure of exclusion. Jackson’s main thesis is that rural schools cannot always escape the power effects of their own resistance to globalizing trends. While rural places may yearn to hang onto their traditional identities, doing so can be dangerous to people in the community and schools. The desire for control can lead to power effects that can be damaging to the ways students learn to value themselves and their communities. What is important about this type of discursive analysis is its emphasis not only on knowledge about rural schooling itself, but also on how that knowledge was formed, and how that knowledge functions within discourse to open up or limit the lives of people. In this way, meanings of “community” can be critiqued and reimagined. Such an analysis also moves the focus from individuals (such as students who “fail” within certain places) to a rigorous tracing of how problems become possible within discourse.

Placing Education

Part 2, “Placing Education,” builds on the ideas in part 1, offering a collection of chapters that analyzes the purpose of education in rural places—and its impact on community—within the tensions and conditions of a changing nation and world. Contributors in this section grapple with questions such as: What are the effects of U.S. neoliberal economic policies and standardization on the purpose of education? What are the messages inherent in formal, standardized schooling that are transmitted to rural students? and, What does it mean to “be” a teacher in such shifting times and unstable places?

Schafft, Killeen, and Morrissey’s chapter analyzes the tensions of place and the purpose of education in a shifting world, using a case study of a set of rural communities in upstate New York to examine the interconnections among rural economic change, increases in rural poverty, and the added challenges imposed on rural students and schools by the federal No Child Left Behind legislation (NCLB). They argue that across the United States many rural communities, especially those historically based around agricultural or manufacturing economies, have experienced the economic brunt of neoliberal economic policies encouraging free trade and government deregulation. This has led to the concentration of agriculture and industrial shutdowns as manufacturing is resited overseas where labor is cheaper and environmental regulations laxer. They argue that NCLB also derives from a market-driven logic fully consistent with neoliberalism, emphasizing standardization and the threat of sanctions based around a set of accountability measures. In upstate New York, as in many other declining rural areas in the United States, accountability measures may operate as a “double jeopardy,” penalizing schools not necessarily for underperformance of students as a consequence of inadequate teaching and administration, but, ironically, for student underperformance directly related to deepening local poverty conditions and the residential instability and academic dislocation that so often results.

Michael Corbett’s work in chapter 6 broadly addresses the clash between the generalizing discourse of formal education (especially its tendencies toward standardization of both curricula and assessment, and its translation of the specificity of locality into a placeless global) and the particularizing discourse of locality and community. As Corbett has written elsewhere (2007, 48), “These two competing spaces stand in resistance to one another; each creates its own criteria of intelligence and legitimate (‘real’) work and each sets up its ‘own’ as the people who have the ‘natural gifts’ to do the work that is done by ‘people like us,’ because each is considered to be ‘naturally’ suited to a particular habitat.”

Corbett’s many years of teaching and extensive ethnographic research in a Nova Scotia coastal fishing community raise important questions about these two “competing spaces”: the multiple, informal institutions of community deeply embedded in local history and culture on the one hand, and the institution of the school on the other hand, an instrument of the state and a purveyor of formal knowledge fundamentally constituting “a story about somewhere else.” What does formal schooling have to say, implicitly or explicitly, about local experience? In this chapter Corbett reflects on his teaching experiences in a Nova Scotia elementary school and how these two competing spaces—and the tensions and ambivalences they create—help to shape the identities and future trajectories of rural people and the communities in which they live in.

The community-global dynamic and its impact on rural education is further explored in chapter 7 by Giroux, Jah, and Eloundou-Enyegue as they look at rural education in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. Their chapter examines trends in rural-urban inequalities in educational attainment and labor market mobility. They observe that while the process of globalization has often been optimistically described as an equalizing force, facilitating the flow of ideas, information, communication, and opportunities across divergent spaces; compressing space; and reducing inequality, this process has been uneven at best. In the African context, inequalities between countries have decreased overall, but inequalities within countries—and in particular between rural and urban areas—have increased, especially as the process of urbanization in developing countries continues. Because of this they investigate the extent to which rural communities experience economic marginalization as a consequence of globalization, and if so, whether this is primarily due to differences in human capital attributes. Their findings suggest that in the case of Cameroon, while rural-urban differences in educational attainment have decreased, human capital attributes appear to have less effect on outcomes than before.

Similar to chapter 7, in chapter 8 Edmondson and Butler look at the role of education in the context of economically declining postindustrial rural communities in Pennsylvania. Like Corbett, these contributors inquire into what it means to be an educator in a rural context, particularly one in which local economic opportunities have been markedly limited by rural economic change. The authors discuss prevailing ideological discourses—conservative, neoconservative, neoliberal, and liberal—how these discourses translate into coherent teaching practice, and what this implies for rural people, schools, and communities. They argue that none of these discourses provides direction for resolving the problems faced by rural communities, problems that require active local engagement and democratic deliberation.

Teaching Communities

After a consideration of issues of identity, place, and education, the book concludes with part 3, “Teaching Communities,” a section that includes critical yet hopeful accounts of programs and partnerships that offer support for different ways of being “rural” in educational communities. Manuscripts argue for approaches such as indigenous education, culturally based pedagogies, interactive distance learning, and critical pedagogies for English Language Learners and special education students. The authors in this section advocate for rural education that may potentially shift the relationships among identity, place, and community in positive, productive ways.

In chapter 9, Faircloth and Tippeconnic note that while in popular culture “globalization” is a relatively recent notion, for indigenous tribes and communities globalization has been a reality for at least five hundred years, beginning with European contact and colonization. Despite the threats posed by disease, poverty, and concerted efforts to eradicate their cultures and languages, Native communities not only continue to persist (Schafft, Faircloth, and Thompson 2006), but use institutions like the tribal colleges to preserve traditional language and culture. They argue that tribal colleges do this both “through locally derived curricula, programming, and instructional practices [that] make tribal colleges spaces within which both Native and non-Native students can thrive intellectually and culturally,” and also by taking specifically global approaches to higher education, developing multiple worldwide partnerships across educational institutions serving Native persons.

A broader discussion of higher education access for youth is the focus of chapter 10. Like the chapters by Corbett and by Edmondson and Butler, McDonough and Gildersleeve similarly address the disconnects between formal education and the lived experience of rural students. They note that while rural K–12 schools are marked by their closeness to community, this does not extend to higher education, which has historically been unresponsive to rural contexts and the needs of rural students. While rural schools typically have higher graduation rates than urban schools, college enrollment of students from rural areas lags behind the national average, and especially behind rates of enrollment for urban students. Using an earlier published study of rural northern California, the authors argue that these graduation rates can at least be partially explained by the cultural disconnect between higher education and the lived experience and cultural contexts of rural students. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, they argue that rural areas like the Northstate area of California embody social and cultural practices that may mitigate against college attendance, such as attachment to community and locality as well as the prevalence of labor markets that historically have not required college degrees for gainful employment (though this is changing). The authors argue that to increase educational opportunities for rural students, institutions of higher education need to more fully engage with rural communities, and in so doing gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for rural heritage, traditions, and the lived experiences of rural students.

Australia poses unique challenges for engaging rural students and building connections within and across localities given the sparsely settled population across the vast continent. In chapter 11, Crump and Twyford describe how these challenges are being met through a system of interactive distance e-learning that expands the reach of educational services for school-aged and adult learners. They describe how this system builds connections both to and between rural and isolated Australian communities via broadband Internet technology, “reducing the tyranny of distance, as well as reaffirming the sense of place that helps bind and hold rural communities together.”

The next two chapters focus on programs and partnerships that support particular rural student populations. In the United States, one of the more notable demographic trends in rural areas has been the in-migration of international immigrants seeking employment (often in agriculture or in meat processing plants) or affordable, safe places to live. In certain cases in-migration, often shaped by family and acquaintance networks, can dramatically alter the ethnic composition of a community and place new strains on the resources of small schools required to accommodate new English Language Learner (ELL) populations. In their chapter, Bustamante, Brown, and Irby note that rural ELL teachers “often find themselves on the front line of changing demographics” within rural communities. They describe a program designed to enable local educators and administrators to improve ELL reading instruction while simultaneously acting as agents of change in their schools and communities.

Butera and Costello also focus on a specific set of students in their discussion of special education in the rural context, where the proportion of special-education-classified students is nearly twice the national average (NCES 2007). This is significant given that most preparation programs for special educators focus on urban contexts. These programs are therefore not well-placed to train educators to identify the particular assets of rural communities that may aid in the provision of special education. Butera and Costello describe a professional development course emphasizing parent partnerships and focusing on how biography and place affect teaching practice. The authors argue that the professionalization of education and its transformation into a standardized technology for content delivery has undermined the school-community connection. The program they describe provides an important opportunity to “deprofessionalize” the relationship between educator and parent, and in so doing to diminish the distance between school and community.

The volume concludes with a discussion by Schafft regarding how educational accountability has over time aligned directly with the economic imperatives of the state, assuming market models and fundamentally weakening the relationship between school and community. This has led, Schafft argues, to a shifting of educational allegiances within schools away from a broader accountability to community and society, in favor of accountability to sets of abstracted institutional and bureaucratic mandates, raising troubling questions about not only the nature of accountability, but the nature of education itself. Schafft argues, however, that community engagement and educational improvement are not only complementary but fundamentally interconnected priorities, and represent critical components of a necessary education for the twenty-first century and the challenges that lie ahead.

Conclusion: Looking Back, Thinking Forward

The chapters in this volume offer historical and contemporary critiques of the ways that rural places, their people, and their schools have experienced cultural hybridity in the wake of capitalism, globalization, immigration, economic shifts, NCLB, violence, war, and the proliferation of media and technology. The contributors have explored these competing interests and have analyzed the problems and possibilities of rural people having to rethink their entire ways of living, being, and educating their children. We hope that the analyses in this collection suggest the closely entwined fates of rural schools and communities as well as the multiple ways in which place matters. Place emerges not as a fixed, bounded, authentic site but as an articulation of social relations and cultural and political practices that are paradoxical, provisional, and constantly in the process of becoming. Rural places are dynamic and fluid, and as such are inseparable from broader networks of power and globalization; thus the twenty-first century will almost certainly pose new challenges for rural schools and communities. Global climate change, environmental degradation, peak oil, as well as new economic and demographic shifts, will all have significant, if as yet not completely known, effects on rural well-being (Klare 2002; Speth 2008). We offer these chapters not as blueprints for how to respond to these challenges, but as evidence of the complexity and resiliency of rural people and places, and what that might mean for the practice and meaning of education—and alternatives for living—as we forge our way into this new century.

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