National Writing Project

Rural Poverty and the Importance of Place Value

By: Angela Kirby
Date: May 2008

Summary: Angela Kirby, a teacher with the Crossroads Writing Project in Michigan, stresses that the education of rural disadvantaged youth needs to focus especially on guiding these students toward living well within their communities.


Excerpt from Chapter

When I began working in rural areas I quickly learned what most rural teachers already knew: teaching in rural areas is contextually different than teaching in urban areas. Our students may not only live several miles from their country school but also at a greater distance from larger population hubs. Access to technology, social services and outside resources which support the educational process are often limited and complicate schooling. The importance of the school and teacher become greater because rural at–risk students living in poverty often lack local resources to access.

Some rural poor students and families display ambivalent attitudes toward traditional school cultures. This may reflect generational social patterns identified in educational research focusing on educational levels, work and poverty (Hill and Duncan, 1987, Concoran et al, 1987). This research gives rise to questions about how rural poor experience education. Could it be interpreted that rural poor value schooling differently than others?

Copyright © 2003. Reprinted with permission from the Michigan Council of Teachers of English.
Kirby, Angela. 2003. "Rural Poverty and the Importance of Place Value." In Language Arts Journal of Michigan 19 (2): 28-32. Michigan Council of Teachers of English.

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