Sunday, 12 March 2017

Rural New Zealand - A great place to live & learn

This video from Barbara Kuriger, MP for Taranaki/King Country, prompted me to think and write about my focus on Rural Education.

Barbara is responding to this type of media report "Tough choices ahead for small-town New Zealand". These sorts of articles appear regularly in our media "Regions must adapt or suffer decline, says academic" or how about this lovely headline "Zombie towns looming, leaders told".



I believe that with affordable land and housing AND access to super fast broadband, not to mention a better quality of life for families then we could see a demographic shift away from the cities back to the regions and rural areas.

More professionals are now working remotely and running their businesses from home. In 2015 The Future of Work Commission found that:
"30% of workers in New Zealand now work full or part time remotely. 11% of these stated they were working full time at home which is double when it was last measured by the company in 2006.
It found further expansion might be on the cards as well with 39% of people saying their work could be done remotely and 68% of those who don’t currently work at home would like to. One of the major advantages it identifies from this is that it would enable the person to live in a different town or city if they wanted to." [my emphasis]
People can live and work anywhere, they don't need to be stuck in the cities. A Rural Renaissance could be just around the corner!

With fast reliable internet, and collaboration across schools and communities our children can also can learn anywhere with anyone. The small rural school that is open, networked and collaborative now has greater teaching & learning capacity than it's urban counterparts.
"For the first time in history, school size, as measured by students in daily, physical attendance, is no longer a measure of a school's teaching capacity. In an open learning environment it is the extent to which a school is networked that determines its teaching and learning capacities." (Stevens and Stewart, 2005)
Stevens, K., & Stewart, D. (2005). Cybercells: learning in actual and virtual groups. Southbank,
Vic.: Thomson/Dunmore Press.

So why do i love rural schools?

Growing up in Rural NZ (Stratford, 1970)
  • Where else can you have fresh blackberries picked for you for morning tea;
  • Build tree huts in the shelter belt;
  • Play in piles of autumn leaves at break time;
  • Look after lambs in the staffroom;
  • Have a weeks worth of cross curricular learning originate from the school woodpile - technology, maths, science, reading;
  • Have the whole school come in camouflage at the start of the duck shooting season;
  • Go to the harbour for creative writing and have an elephant seal oblige for story starters;
  • Have bush camp for juniors (and all your kids);
  • Have a conservation reserve in the middle of your adventure playground when a rare stilt nests there;
  • Join in the docking in the paddock next door after lunch;
  • Care for the kiwi in your local area;
  • Tell your Mandarin teacher that you need to learn how to count past 10,000 because that's how many animals you have at home;
  • Have a school trip/treat to the end of the road to meet the Mr Whippy van that stops for all Eastern Taranaki schools on a Wednesday afternoon on the way to Whanga. (I don't know if this still happens :)
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