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"School of the Air"

Calling all Aussies!!!

Would anyone like to share their schooling experiences using the "school of the air" in Australia?

Many of us educators are interested in learning about how such a program worked in the past, and how it is working now with all the new technology.

Thank you for your contributions.

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Closing Statement from W T

I want to thank Ann Kempe and Kate Blake for educating us about Schools of the Air in Australia.
This was a short, but very instructional conversation.

Thank you also to those that participated.

If you are reading this, make sure and click on the links below to go to the Australian sites on these schools. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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  • Apr 27 2013: Hi
    I received all my primary school (the first 5 years of school) using School of the Air. We lived in central Australia (1500 km from the nearest city of Adelaide - in the state of South Australia. This was in the 1960's. My parents managed a huge cattle station (in US you call them ranches I think). We had a governess - usually a young woman who had just left school). Every two weeks we received a package of educational material - texts, instructions etc and the governess would ensure we worked through these. We would write out the answers to the school lessons and then everything would be posted back to the central office of School of the Air (in our case to Port Augusta). All School of the Air students also communicated with their teacher every day by two-way radio and had a one hour "lesson".
    All this has now radically changed. There are sat-phones, computers, the internet and Skype. People still hire personal governesses (or men equivalent) and there are mobile school teachers who fly around the out-back and visit children in their home school. It is still an essential part of Australian outback life. Most children are sent to boarding school in the cities after 6-7 years of home school using School of the Air (as I was). They usually only see their parents 4-5 times a year thereafter.
    Here is a link to SOA - Pt. Augusta http://www.openaccess.edu.au/about_us/port_augusta.html
    I am grateful for this experience as there was no other option in those days.
    I hope I have been of use to you.
    • W T 100+

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      Apr 28 2013: Thank you so much for your personal experience, and for the link.

      As a teacher myself, I find these schools very interesting.

      So you went to boarding school? How was that?
      I do not know anyone who has attended boarding school.
      As a mom I can't imagine sending my kids away....{ sob sob sniff sniff }

      I must also share the fact that I have spent many years homeschooling my own kids...so I know a little bit about this side of education as well.
      • Apr 28 2013: Hello again Mary
        I am pleased to be of assistance.
        Boarding School is often an essential part of Australian rural school life. We have a population of only 23 million and most of the people live in the cities situated (usually) on the coast of each of the states. There are also larger regional cities across most of the states. The rest of the population lives in sparsely settled areas with great distances where no one lives and no schools are available. So many parents living in the more remote parts of our country are forced to send their children to boarding schools which are situated in the big regional cities and the capital cities of each state. These schools often provide very high quality education and excellent living spaces and support for the children - including sporting and other non-school activities. They are often managed by religious organisations like the Catholic Church.
        Life at boarding school was not very good in my childhood days (many years ago!!!). It was lonely and sometimes frightening and we where often very homesick to the point of not functioning very well academically. However on the positive side, the experience gave me a strong sense of autonomy and self-reliance. I am stronger for the experience. I found I had many life-skills and could look after myself well even at a very young age (10 years old) and this helped a lot in my later life. For example in my nursing profession where I have needed a strength of character to deal with difficult situations sometimes. So all in all - it was a great experience.
        regards
        Ann
        • W T 100+

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          Apr 29 2013: Hi Ann, thanks for replying.

          Yes, I can imagine that it would be a bit frightening to be away from home.
          I'm glad to read of the positive aspects of your experience.

          Just this morning we were discussing what a chore it is to go through the prepping, cooking, serving, and eating of a meal, and then washing, and putting away dishes and pots and pans.....

          The first thing that popped into my mind to respond was.....well, ever since I lived away from home by myself, I learned that if I didn't do certain things I could not survive. So I learned to fend for myself. This has helped me tremendously in taking care of my family.
          It has also given me strength of character. I think people who know me realize that I am not much of a follower, and I deal with difficult situations rather swiftly.

          What a wonderful life experience you have had.

          Ever think of writing a book? Even a children's book?

          Mary

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