London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Rurality matters: Revealing the challenges of educating for social justice in rural schools

Author(s) Pattison-Meek, J.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2012  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Creating Communities: Local, National and Global  
Age group -  
Education for social justice is a challenge in rural schools, where racial and ethno-cultural diversity is often not visible amongst students and teachers. The implications of rural schooling, compared to more racially diverse urban environments, for the teaching and learning of democratic citizenship have received limited scholarly attention in North America and the United Kingdom. Research addressing other forms of social identity tends not to interrogate the significance of rural contexts. This paper, therefore, examines social justice pedagogy in a rural high school setting. I consider how, in such rural classrooms, identity-based social conflict issues, explored through dialogic pedagogies, may reveal a diversity of views and competing perspectives that had been previously unremarked or undisclosed. Through an analytical review of scholarly literature on multicultural education and controversial issues in citizenship education, illustrated with a vignette from my own experience as a practicing secondary school Civics teacher, I argue that to achieve authentic cultural understanding in these ostensibly-homogeneous rural spaces requires educators to take a brave political leap to locate difference in perceived sameness. Schools that appear outwardly homogeneous are, of course, more ideologically diverse and vibrant than many initially recognise. This research shows how rural high school students may come to identify and appreciate the divergent ideological viewpoints among their peers when these within-community differences are 'activated' by the teacher as explicit topics for discussion. Keywords: conflictual issues dialogue, democratic citizenship education, rural education, multicultural, secondary classrooms

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