Educational Research and Schooling in Rural Europe

An Engagement with Changing Patterns of Education, Space and Place

Edited by:
Cath Gristy, University of Plymouth
Linda Hargreaves, University of Cambridge
Silvie R. Kučerová, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem

A volume in the series: Current Research in Rural and Regional Education. Editor(s): Michael Corbett, University of Tasmania. Karen Eppley, Penn State University.

Published 2020

This book provides authentic accounts of the effects of the revolutionary political reform experienced in the past half century on education in Europe’s considerable rural hinterland. These reforms include the liberation of the Baltic and Eastern European states from Soviet communist domination, the ‘eurozone’ economic crises, and the current and future migration of people fleeing war and poverty from the Middle East and Africa. Overshadowing these events are so-called global forces which champion economies of scale and pressurize academic performance as keys to economic success. Trapped in this distal whirlwind of change are 1000s of small and/or rural elementary schools and the life chances of more 1000s of young children.

The research presented here unveils the unseen and under-reported consequences of top-down, urban-oriented educational policies on children’s and communities’ experience of place and space. Exposure of these conditions in rural Europe is long overdue, but obscured for decades by political extremes of left and right. Yet, the lived reality of peremptory and swathing school closure programmes, and poverty inflicted on rural populations in parts of Eastern Europe is relatively unreported in the western educational literature – a situation exacerbated by the virtual invisibility of rural educational research generally.

The chapters in this book reveal the insights of social science scholars from 11 European countries including those from low GDP, formerly soviet bloc countries, recently enabled to present their research at western European conferences such as the European Educational Research Association. Their research will inform and alert education academics, researchers and professionals to these rural European educational contexts. The research methodologies reported are diverse and innovative. The national context chapters are complemented by overview chapters which survey and synthesise (i) definitions and conceptualisations of rural, (ii) pan-European appraisal of educational, structural and geospatial statistics on small and rural schools, and (iii) identify key messages for better understanding of the rural situation in European research, policy and practice. Crucially, despite the gloom, the authors report positive strategies for rural school survival at governmental and/or school and community levels, that include community involvement, rural educational tourism, and deliberative inter-community school network planning.

Preface. Foreword: Rural Schools in an Iron Cage? Words for the Reader, Rune Kvalsund. List of Figures. List of Tables. Acknowledgments. Introduction: European Rural Schools and Their Communities: “The Stone in Europe’s Shoe?”, Linda Hargreaves. PART I: CONCEPTUALIZING AND MAPPING THE EUROPEAN RURAL SPACE. Factors Influencing Elementary Education Systems in Selected European Countries, Silvie R. Kučerová, Petr Meyer, and Petr Trahorsch. Rural Education in a Globalized World: The Cases of Norway and Finland, Karl Jan Solstad and Gunilla Karlberg-Granlund. PART II: ENGAGING WITH CHANGING PATTERNS OF EDUCATION, SPACE, AND PLACE. Turbulent Times and Reshaped Rural School Network in Hungary, Katalin Kovács. A Consideration of Czech Rural Schools From Different Scales: From Centrally Directed to Autonomous Educational Policies, Silvie R. Kučerová and Kateřina Trnková. Rural Schools in Poland in the Period of Post-Socialist Decentralization and Demographic Decline, Artur Bajerski. Rural Education in Serbia: Conflict Between Rhetoric and Reality, Ana Pešikan, Slobodanka Antić, and Ivan Ivić. Development and Research of the Rural School Situation in Spain, Begoña Vigo-Arrazola and Juana Soriano Bozalongo. Small Rural Primary Schools in Austria: Places of Innovation? Andrea Raggl. Globalizing the Local and Localizing the Global: The Role of the ICT in Isolated Mountain and Island Schools in Italy, Giuseppina Cannella. The Role of School Boards and School Leadership in Small Schools in the Netherlands, Marjolein Deunk and Ralf Maslowski. Inclusive and Collaborative School Network Planning in Finland: A Critical Process for Rural Schools, Sami Tantarimäki and Anni Törhönen. PART III: DEVELOPING AND DEEPENING THEORETICAL ENGAGEMENT. The Rural Primary School Head Teacher in the Field, Carl Bagley and Sam Hillyard. Putting Lefebvre to Work on “The Rural”, Cath Gristy. PART IV: EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND SCHOOLING IN RURAL EUROPE: CHANGE, INNOVATION, AND HOPE. Schools and Their Communities in Rural Europe: Patterns of Change, Cath Gristy, Linda Hargreaves, and Silvie R. Kučerová. Educational Research in Rural Europe: State, Status, and the Road Ahead, Linda Hargreaves, Cath Gristy, and Silvie R. Kučerová. Appendix: The European Migration Crisis and the Status of Immigrant Children in Educational Systems, Libor Jelen. About the Editors. About the Contributors.

"The editors have paved the way for ongoing, interesting and relevant discussions. They have argued strongly for considerations of theory and have highlighted the complexities, plurality and diversity of rural Europe. In raising awareness of “the diversity, the resource, and potential of rural school contexts in Europe” (p. 352), the discussions need to continue." Robyn Henderson University of Southern Queensland in Australian and International Journal of Rural Education (Read full review)