This is a longitudinal academic study of the patterns of education among a small community of fisher folk living near Digby, Nova Scotia. The author makes a fascinating argument that, for the fishing families of Digby Neck, higher education is not necessarily the automatic "ticket to a good life" that we have been led to expect by government and mass media. He combines quantitative census data with in-depth ethnographic observations to present a rich and respectful portrait of these hardy people, and how education plays a part in their lives.
The chapters on theory might be tough going for the average reader, but the chapters that convey his research findings are quite accessible and interesting, especially for anyone interested in Nova Scotian fishing communities. Above and beyond the educational implications discussed in the book, one is left with a distinct feeling of sadness at the loss of fishing as a predominant way of life in this particular Nova Scotian community.
I would recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about Nova Scotian rural communities, or about the state of rural education in a fast changing, ever more global world.
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Beautiful written and thought provokingSept. 6 2012
Mireille K McLaughlin
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Be it in Canada, Korea or elsewhere in the world, rural education often poses a problem to educational boards. Rural regions often showcase lower educational achievement, lower standardized test scores, etc. In Learning to Leave, Corbett offers the best analysis of the mechanisms that create the "rural school" problem. He argues two things: 1. That school systems often fail to recognize the cultural practices that have value in rural communities. He links the value of these practices to the economic conditions of rural communities. These conditions are often, like the community of New Digby where he carried out his field work, economies of extraction. Secondly he argues that 2. what school effectively does is teach successful students to leave. Schools train kids for the type of employment often found outside of the community (often urban centers). In short, there is a disconnect between the curriculum valued by the school and the skills required for access to the rural labor markets. What Corbett does is offer an original and compelling understanding of rural education. A must read for anyone in the sociology of education - And anyone interested in a great application of Bourdieu's theories of symbolic capital.