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Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing Paper


and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing Paper

8. Pre-service preparation


Whether graduates

intend to teach in rural, remote or metropolitan schools, it is important

that they engage in indigenous cultural awareness training. This is particularly

relevant for teachers taking placements or intending to work in isolated

communities (Submission 52, Yipirinya School, NT).

Preparation for rural

and remote living is also an important part of the training process. For

many new recruits, the success of their placement is dependent on their

ability to acculturate to the new environment and understand the ways

in which a small community may operate. The National Isolated Children's

Parents' Association recommends that a rural education component be included

in pre-service teacher training courses (Submission 37).

Research indicates



involved in teacher training should address the differences that graduates

may encounter in rural contexts (Miller, 1994). The nature of the rural

context is not the same as that of the urban area and generically trained

teachers will not necessarily be well prepared for the demands of teaching

in this environment (Higgins, 1993, Bloodsworth, 1994, Kirk, 1994, Herzog

& Pittman, 1995). McFaul suggests that the inexperienced rural teacher

be provided with a package containing, research findings, useful local

information, an understanding of rural values and some workable strategies

(1989). Previous research undertaken by Herzog and Pittman (1995) indicates

that minimal account is being taken of the rural context in teacher training

and that institutions should provide more than a 'superficial sensitivity

training' (Hard 1997).


to the Inquiry

I'd like

to talk about proper preparation for staff who go to our remote areas,

because at the moment very few have qualifications in ESL or even a thorough

preparedness for working in cross-cultural contexts. Despite an initial

orientation program which is run by the [NT] Department of Education,

and I understand that that's a winner of some awards, a lot more needs

to be done. This comes back to increasing the size of the cake, rather

than talking about its redistribution (Robert Laird, Australian Education

Union (NT), Darwin public hearing, 10 May 1999).

Teaching staff

employed in the communities have little understanding of the Indigenous

culture and maybe non-Aboriginal teachers need to have ongoing workshops

about culture and Aboriginal education issues, to even begin to understand

how to teach or effectively teach Indigenous students.

[We need] identified

Aboriginal teaching positions in all schools [we also need to] enhance

the pathways for Indigenous people wanting to be educators in their

community (Submission 52, Yipirinya School, NT).

From my experience

the NSW Education Department is willing to spend extra money on rural

schools. They are willing to undertake initiatives such as the Walgett

Community of Schools. The staff are generally very committed and competent.

However, they are often unprepared for the different worlds that country

towns and Aboriginal culture are. Too often the programs and regulations

are based on another culture. There are also incidents such as the principal

who said to an Aboriginal parent, who was distressed that all of one

class were in the bottom 20% of the state in a literacy test "That's

not bad for Aboriginal kids" (Submission 25, Christian Brothers

Schools, NSW).


updated 2 December 2001.