Kids, big and small, are headed back to school again. Some are happy about it and some aren’t. Even parents are divided about having the house vacant of their school aged kids. Looking back at those days as a father of adult children and a former student many, many years ago, school time was always a time of renewal and adventure with a dash of stress.
It’s strange how differently we all handle the first day of school. The introverted child would rather stay at home and read, the extrovert can’t wait to be surrounded with friends.
Choosing a desk was a big deal. Sitting near a trouble maker will probably rub off a little in a bad way as being near an “A+” student will probably raise your grade a little. Being near a girl/boy you like will just distract you from basically everything. Side note, I ended up marrying the cute blonde girl that sat a few seats ahead of me on the elementary school bus. 33 years later, she’s just as cute.
My elementary school was pretty small and still is about the same size today, 150 students. As with many rural schools, every one knew everyone else, for better or worse. A number of my teachers also taught my kids. Many of the teachers that have taught there also where students at one time. When I go back for a fundraiser or whatever, it still feels familiar and comfortable.
With kids going to school, the helping farm hands and time to do house / yard chores are often in shorter supply. Our teenagers are off to college or university and may or not be back on weekends, depending how much fun their having. Our younger kids have homework and project to do, so they have less time to help out too. But it’s for the greater good, so we soldier on.
My question today is:
Are rural and urban schools different?
Are students better equipped exiting a rural or urban school?
Looking at this question as a former rural school attendee, there seems to be advantages from both systems. (I acknowledge that these observations don’t apply to everyone)
– Rural schools are more personal, teachers get to know students and their family’s over the years.
Taken from : A Changing Landscape; Brian T. Sullivan
… many rural schools enjoy characteristics that are the envy of their suburban and urban counterparts. Chief among these are smaller schools and smaller class sizes that better support student achievement, as indicated in a growing body of research. Furthermore, smaller schools and classes promote a sense of identity and connectedness that can be hard to find in many large public schools. State and federal efforts are currently underway to replicate such conditions, a fact of life in many rural areas.
– Urban schools have more resources to offer. Bigger schools often have more athletic, technical and special education opportunities. How many rural schools have swimming and sailing as part of their physical education program? Urban schools often do.
Excerpt from Masters in Special Education, Program Guide.
How do Special Education Programs Differ in Rural and Urban Schools?
Although state education standards dictate the direction of special education programs, there are significant differences in special education programs between rural and urban schools. Most of these differences stem from the higher difficulty in hiring qualified personnel. That is the top impediment to special needs education in rural schools according to a government report, although funding also plays a role in establishing differences in the programs.
– Academic achievement from either system is mostly dependent on the student.
Taken from Stats Canada: Understanding the rural-urban reading gap.
How do rural and urban students and schools differ? The first stage in this analysis was an investigation of a variety of student, school and community characteristics to determine how rural and urban student populations differed and where those differences were consistent with differences in student reading performance. This information was then used in hypotheses about the determinants of the rural-urban reading gap. Individual student behaviour A variety of factors were available to describe student behaviours or the nature of students’ relationships with others: reading behaviours, social communication with parents, student behaviour and discipline in the classroom (student group behaviours), student-teacher relationships and support from teachers. (See Appendix A for provincial data tables). Generally, there were no systematic rural-urban differences in the variables that describe personal behaviours and relationships such as reading behaviours and social interaction with parents. Enjoyment of reading, for example, which showed a strong correlation with reading performance in the PISA study, was the same for rural and urban students in most provinces with two notable exceptions. In Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta, rural students reported levels of reading enjoyment significantly lower than those of urban students. For the most part, rural and urban students reported the same levels of social interaction with their parents. In addition, there was generally no difference in rural and urban student reports on the disciplinary environment of the school or the level of teacher support or student-teacher relations.
– Commuting to school takes longer for rural school students. I’m undesided if this is a good or bad thing. The school bus ride I took each day was at least 30 minutes each way and I generally enjoyed it. Of course there is some bullying during this time of lower supervision but all-in-all it’s a fun time to hang out with friends. (Remember, this is where I first noticed the cute blonde girl.) But at what point is the bus ride too long? At some point you can waste too much time in a school bus, it’s a personal decision parents have to make if they have options.
The urban student often walks or cycles to school. This added exercise can be very beneficial to the health of the student.
To sum all this up, in a very inspiring way, please read the personal conclusion of Jane Pauline Preston of her Thesis on RURAL AND URBAN TEACHING EXPERIENCES OF EIGHT PRAIRIE TEACHERS
Reflection: “I’ve come to know there’s life on both ends of that red dirt road.” Brooks & Dunn, 2003
Perhaps one of the most important components of this thesis lies in this final reflection. From the writing of this thesis, I’ve come to recognize hidden “monsters under my bed”. Although I identified some of my rural biases at the beginning of the study, I didn’t realize until the end of my study the extent of these biases. Although I enjoyed many aspects of being raised on the farm, I always thought that I had been cheated academically because I went to a rural school. One might even say I felt bitter, because being raised “rural” put me at a disadvantage academically and professionally. Because I was a “farm girl” I always felt less sophisticated and somewhat inferior to my university friends and teaching colleagues simply because I grew up having drunk frothy milk from our Holstein cows and not the chocolate milk poured from a wax carton. 143 I see now, there is no need for this personal prejudice. From this study, I have come to realize the full potential of my rural background. My rural background has contributed to my success as a mother, wife, teacher, and community member. This background has provided me with invaluable treasures such as communal spirit and support, awareness and concern for others, a love for nature and gardening, and a closeness to family, relatives, and friends. Also from this study, I have recognized the importance of my urban living and teaching experiences and have become profoundly grateful for them. Opportunities within urban communities have quenched my thirst for travel, academic achievement, and religious and cultural understanding. Participating in urban teaching and living has given me global awareness, a greater concern and care for the environment, an interest in politics, an interest in cultural diversity, and a love for the fine arts. Because of these experiences, I am a better mother, wife, teacher, and community member. What I now see clearly is: There is no rivalry between rural and urban, but there are differences. In their uniqueness, there is celebration; a celebration of diversity and an opportunity to learn.