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Forgotten Places

Critical Studies in Rural Education


Edited By William M. Reynolds

Forgotten Places: Critical Studies in Rural Education critically investigates and informs the construction of the rural, rural identity and the understanding of the rural internationally. This book promotes and expands the notion of critical understandings of rural education, particularly in the areas of race, class, gender, and LGBTQ, with conceptualizations of social justice. While there have been many volumes written on critical issues in urban education, only a small number have been produced on rural education, and the majority of those are not critical. By contrast, Forgotten Places not only discusses "schools in the country," but also expands conceptualizations of the rural beyond schools and place as well as beyond the borders of the United States. It also tackles the artificial duality between conceptualizations of urban and rural. Forgotten Places includes scholarly investigations into the connections among the symbolic order, various forms of cultural artifacts and multiple readings of these artifacts within the context of critical/transformational pedagogy. This book fills a significant gap in the scholarly work on the ramifications of the rural.

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Chapter Seventeen: “It was the river that taught me …”: The Southern rural ecology as educative space (Rebekah Cordova, Illustrated by Erin Bowers)


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“It WAS THE river THAT taught ME …”

The Southern rural ecology as educative space


The goal of the educational researcher is to conceive of the many ways to answer these questions: How might we know what is educational? Of what will draw our attention to this matter?

When critically looking to the rural to understand or problematize that which provides education, or that which could be deemed educative, I concur with McLaren and Giroux (1990) when they acknowledge that “… very little writing exists that deals with critical pedagogy in the rural school, classroom, and community” (p. 154). Of course there is ample discussion of the rural, as in comparison to what is often described as “urban”, but not necessarily as two-sides of the same coin, rather it is as if rural areas can better and more easily be characterized by the absence of urban characteristics.

Specifically when we review education research that focuses on urban education, these writings can often perpetuate a perspective on the nuanced ecology of the urban that either conflates geography with demography or essentializes it to the most difficult of spaces (see Milner, 2012; Watson, 2011)—however, when poised against these constructions, the rural takes on a sort of absence of character. It is often painted as a place devoid of significant storied experiences (other than those that encourage stereotypes)—a...

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