Sustainable futures for rural education: changing preservice teachers’ attitudes for teaching in rural schools
Hudson, P & Hudson, S 2008, 'Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Conference', paper presented to the Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Conference, Brisbane, Qld., 30 November- 4th December.
There are teaching shortages in Australian rural schools. Many preservice teachers have had no rural teaching experiences and may be reluctant to apply for rural teaching positions. What may motivate non-rural preservice teachers to seek employment in rural schools? This study investigates 17 preservice teachers’ first experiences of teaching and living in rural areas. These second and third-year preservice teachers were involved in a five-day rural experience, which included interacting with local communities, living with host families, observing teaching practices, and teaching rural middle-school students. These self-nominated preservice teachers were placed in a variety of rural schools centred around a feeder high school. This qualitative study used a narrative inquiry to explain participants’ experiences. Data from written transcripts before their rural placements and reflections on their teaching and rural experiences indicated very significant attitudinal changes for teaching in rural areas and dispelled misconceptions about rural living and teaching. Non-rural universities can contribute towards motivating their preservice teachers to seek employment in rural areas. Providing these preservice teachers with a rural experience can create attitudinal changes for teaching and living in rural areas towards more sustainable futures.