ERIC Number: ED384484
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1995-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
Rural School Consolidation and Student Learning. ERIC Digest.
This digest examines the pressures that have led to school consolidation, what consolidation has achieved, the role of community in education, and the ways that school consolidation undermines that role. Belief in the principle of economies of scale and the pursuit of national educational goals related to economic competitiveness have led school leaders to seek "the one best system" of schooling--usually, the large comprehensive high school with feeder districts. As rural communities with weakened economies have become more dependent on state funds, these attitudes plus state funding and accreditation formulas have led to increased school consolidation. However, large standardized systems may result in impersonal climate, increased bureaucracy, and low student participation, which in turn lead to social conflict in schools and disruptive student behavior. In addition, growing evidence indicates that school consolidation offers little or no advantage in controlling costs. Another, less discussed, reason for reconsidering consolidation involves the important role that community plays in education. People understand situations and events through two kinds of thought: paradigmatic thought based on technical knowledge (usually learned in school) and narrative thought (personal stories) about grounded experiences. Both modes of interpreting experience are influenced by local culture absorbed while participating in the community. Both small rural towns and urban neighborhoods can offer community naturally, but schools can offer only certain aspects of community. When the school is an interwoven part of the community, both are potent educators. (SV)
Descriptors: Community Influence, Community Role, Consolidated Schools, Cultural Context, Elementary Secondary Education, Epistemology, Experiential Learning, Learning Processes, Rural Schools, School Community Relationship
ERIC/CRESS, P.O. Box 1348, Charleston, WV 25325-1348 (free).
Publication Type: ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV.