Psychology from the Margins


This paper presents a review of the historical context and the prominent debates about rural education that occurred from 1900-1940 and connects current trends in rural education to this history. Outmigration of rural youth and the decline of rural populations spurred the development of the Country Life Commission (Danbom, 1979) which sought to address this problem through rural education reform. Outmigration of rural youth continues to be a concern for rural communities, and the continued and important role of modern education in this phenomenon is discussed. Additionally, the current paper offers a review of other historic concerns regarding rural education including the training and recruitment of teachers, school district consolidation, and content of rural curriculum. Links to modern debates surrounding educational resources (e.g., funding) and curriculum are discussed, including the importance of place-based education, along with an historic case example highlighting culturally informed educational practices offered by the Montana Life Project (Montana Education Association, ca. 1937). Targets of advocacy to improve rural education historically and contemporarily are highlighted, as well as the importance of cultural competence in rural education. Additionally, implications for modern rural education drawn from the connection of historical debates and contexts and current situations are provided.



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