Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 35, No. 2, May 2012, 243–254.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This research study explored student teachers’ perceptions of rural teaching from a qualitative research paradigm.
The focus of the research was on the participants and how they experience and interact with a phenomenon at a given point in time and in a particular context, and the multiple meanings it has for them.
The participants were 115 senior student teachers from the Department of English Language Teaching at a large state university in western Turkey.
Data were collected through an open-ended questionnaire and focus group discussions.
The findings revealed that the participants failed to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the uniqueness and consequences of teaching in a rural area.
Since the majority of participants had never lived away from the urban parts of Turkey, there was a high degree of uncertainty and unfamiliarity about the rural situations.
The results revealed that the participants had polarised views about the issue.
For some of the participants, the rural teaching offered a unique opportunity for the realization of an idealistic mission for their country.
They considered that it was their duty as teachers to help solve the basic problems such as illiteracy, poverty and women’s rights issues prevalent in rural contexts.
However, other participants were particularly fearful of adjusting to an unfamiliar rural context.
They had vague and dichotomous images concerning rural areas, which suggested that they had some preconceptions, mainly formed from media representations or from vicarious experiences of friends or acquaintances.
The fact that senior student teachers in the sample seem to be rather uncertain about the uniqueness of rural teaching has potentially serious implications.
It is clear that student teachers have vague perceptions of rural teaching mainly grounded on sweeping generalisations.
Given that service in a rural context is compulsory for all branches of teachers in Turkey, teacher education institutions need to develop specific instructional programmes for rural teacher preparation.
The author concludes that this preliminary study indicates the need for the development of appropriate instructional programmes to prepare Turkish student teachers for rural appointments.
The faculties of education can in fact assist prospective teachers to develop realistic expectations of rural teaching and an appreciation of its unique complexities through the inclusion of appropriate programmes.