Perspectives of a Rural Music Educator: A Narrative Journey Through 'Sense of Place'

Janet Spring


There is a scarcity of research in contemporary rural studies in Canada, particularly pertaining to education. Discrepancies exist in definitions of rural and rurality. What is the meaning of rural, and how do educators define their teaching praxes? This study explores how one music teacher negotiates her role identity in a rural setting through the conceptual framework of sense of place, and how ‘place’ influences her education praxis. Grounded in the narrative methodological perspectives of Connelly and Clandinin (2006), this study investigates the lived experiences of one educator from a place-based lens. Findings indicate that a place-based curriculum may highlight positive aspects of rural areas, address shortcomings, and encourage rural youth to return to their rural roots.


Arnold, M., Newman, J., Gaddy, B., & Dean, C. (2005). A look at the condition of rural education research: setting a direction for further research. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 20(6), 1-25.

Bates, V. (2011). Preparing rural music teachers: reflecting on “shared visions”. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 20(2), 89-98.

Barley, Z, Beesley, A. (2007). Rural school success. What can we learn? Journal of Research in Rural Education, 22(1), 1-16.

Beattie, M. (1995a). New prospects for teacher education: narrative ways of knowing teaching and teacher learning. Educational Research, 37(1), 53-70.

Beattie, M. (1995b). Constructing professional knowledge in teaching: narratives of change and development. New York, Columbia University: Teachers College Press.

Beattie, M. (2000). Narratives of professional learning: becoming a teacher and learning to teach. Journal of Educational Inquiry, 1(2), 1-13.

Beattie, M. (2001). The art of learning to teach: Preservice teacher narratives. Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Beattie, M. (2009). A narrative arts-based pedagogy: connecting the personal, professional and scholarly. In M. Beattie (Ed.), The quest for meaning: narratives of teaching, learning and the arts (pp. 29-71). Rotterdam: Sense.

Beeson, E., & Strange, M. (2000). Why rural matters: the need for every state to take action on rural education. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 16(2), 63-140.

Brook, J. (2011). Rural routes: Place-Based Education in Two Rural Canadian Communities, Unpublished Doctoral Thesis: Queens University, Kingston, ON, Canada.

Budge, K. (2006). Rural leaders, rural places: Problem, privilege, and possibility. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 21(13), 1-10.

Burkett, E. (2011). A case study of issues concerning professional development for rural instrumental music teachers. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 21(1), 51-64.

Cicchinelli, L.F., Dean, C.B. (2005), It’s all about the quality of advice, guidance, and research for rural educators: A rejoinder to Howley, Theobald, and Howley. Journal of Rural Education, 20(19), 1-2.

Clandinin, D. J. (1986). Classroom practice: teachers’ images in action. London: Falmer Press.

Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (1991). Narrative and story in practice and research. In D. Schön (Ed.), The reflective turn: case studies in and of educational practice. New York: Teachers’ College Press.

Clandinin, D. J., Connelly, F. M. (1994). Personal experience methods. In N.K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.). Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials. (pp.150-178) London: Sage.

Clandinin, D. J., Connelly, F. M. (1995). Beginning teaching: stories of position and positioning in the landscape. In D.J. Clandinin & F. J. Connelly (Eds.), Teachers’ professional knowledge landscapes. New York: Teachers’ College Press.

Clandinin, D. J., Connelly, F. M. (1996). Teachers’ professional knowledge landscapes. Teacher stories, stories of teachers. School stories, stories of schools. Educational Researcher, 25(3), 24-30.

Clandinin, D. J., Connelly, F. M. (1998). Asking questions about telling stories. In C. Kridel (Ed.), Writing educational biography:

Exploration in qualitative research (pp. 245-253). New York: Garland.

Clandinin, D. J., Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Clandinin, D. J., Pushor, D., Orr, A. M. (2007).Navigating sites for narrative inquiry. Journal of Teacher Education, 58 (1), 21-35.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., Morrison, K. (2000). Research Methods in Education. New York: Routledge Falmer.

Coladarci, T. (2007). Improving the yield on rural education research. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 22(3), 1-9.

Connelly, F. M., Clandinin, D. J. (1991). Narrative inquiry: storied experience. In E.C. Short (Ed.). Forms of curriculum inquiry: guidelines for the conduct of educational research (pp 121-154), Albany: State University of New York Press.

Connelly, F. M., Clandinin, D. J. (1986). On narrative method, personal philosophy and narrative unities in the story of teaching. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23(4), 293-310.

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1988). Teachers as curriculum planners: Narratives of experience. Toronto: Teachers College Press.

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19(5), 2-14.

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (2006). Narrative inquiry. In J. L. Green, G. Camilli, & P. Elmore (Eds.), Handbook of complementary methods in education research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Corbett, M. (2009). Rural schooling in mobile modernity: returning to the places I’ve been. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 24(7), 1-13.

Corbett, M. (2010). Wharf talk, home talk, and school talk: the politics of language in a coastal community. In K. Schafft & A. Y. Jackson (Eds.), Rural education for the twenty-first century: Identity, place, and community in a globalizing world (pp.115-131), University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Derrett, R. (2003). Festivals and regional destinations: How festivals demonstrate a sense of community and place. Rural Society, 13(1), 35-53.

Dixon, J. (2000). Displacing place-identity: a discursive approach to locating self and other. British Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 7-44.

Eisner, E. (1991). The enlightened eye: Qualitative inquiry and the enhancement of educational practice. New York: MacMillan.

Gieryn, T. F. (2000). A space for place in sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 463-496.

Goertz, M., & Duffy, M. (2003). Mapping the landscape of high-stakes testing and accountability programs. Theory Into Practice, 42, 4-11.

Gruenewald, D. (2003). The best of both worlds: a critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher, 32(4), 3-12.

Hardre, P., Sullivan, & D., Crowson, H. (2009). Student characteristics and motivation in rural high schools. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 24(16), 1-19.

Holt, L. (2004). The ‘voices’ of children: Decentring empowering research relations, Children’s Geographies, 2(1), 13-27.

Howley, C., Theobald, P., Howley, A. (2005). What rural education research is of most worth? A reply to Arnold, Newman, Gaddy, and Dean. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 20(18), 1-6.

Hudson, R. (2006). Regions and place: music, identity, and place. Progress in Human Geography, 30(5), 626-634.

Hummon, D. M. 1992. Community attachment: local sentiment and sense of place. In I. Altman, S.M. Low (Eds.), Place attachment (pp. 253-78). New York: Plenum.

Hunt, C. (2009). Perspectives on rural and urban music teaching. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 18(2), 34-47.

Isbell, D. (2005). Music education in rural areas: a few keys to success. Music Educators Journal, 92, 30-34.

Jentsch, B., & Shucksmith, M. (2004). Young people in rural areas of Europe, Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

Leyshon, M. (2008). The betweeness of being a rural youth: inclusive and exclusive lifestyles, Social and Cultural Geography, 9(1), 1-26.

Leyshon, M., Bull, J. The bricolage of the here: Young people’s narratives of identity in the countryside. Social and Cultural Geography, 12(2), 159-222.

Leo-Nyquist, D., & Theobald, P. (1997). Toward a pedagogy of place: finding common ground for rural researchers, teacher educators, and practitioners. Paper presented at the American Association for Education Research, Chicago.

Maltas, C. J. (2004). The rural music teacher: an investigation of the relationship between socialization factors and career satisfaction using symbolic interaction theory. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Ontario. (2007). Strong rural communities-Ontario rural plan update 2007. Retrieved October 6, 2013 from

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (2004). Strong rural communities working together for success. Retrieved April 24, 2013 from:

Nairn, K., Panelli, R., McCormack, J. (2003). Destabilizing dualisms: young peoples’ experiences in rural and urban environments. Childhood, 10(1), 9-42.

Nespor, J. (2008). Education and place: A review essay. Educational Theory, 58(4), 475 - 489.

Pereira, M. (2009). Beginning with myself: the power of music: a reflection, renewal and transformation. In M. Beattie (Ed.), The quest for meaning (pp. 75 – 91). Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense.

Richardson, C. (2006). Collaborative consonance: Hearing our voices while listening to the Choir. Unpublished doctoral dissertation: OISE, Toronto.

Richardson, C. (2009). Hearing my voice while listening to the choir. In M. Beattie (Ed.), The quest for meaning (pp. 233-250) Rotterdam: Sense.

Rural Ontario Municipal Association. (2011). A voice for rural and northern Ontario. Retrieved September 29, 2013, from

Statistics Canada. (2002). Definitions of rural: agriculture and rural working paper series. Retrieved September 5, 2013 from:〈=eng

Sobel, D. (2004). Place-based education: connecting classrooms and communities. Barrington, MD: The Orion Society.

Stefanovic, I. L. (1998). Phenomenological encounters with place: Cavtat to square one. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 18, 31-44.

Theobald, P. (2005). Urban and rural schools: overcoming lingering obstacles. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(2), 116-122.

Theobald, P., & Wood, K. (2010). Learning to be rural: identity lessons from history, schooling, and the U.S. corporate media. In K. A. Schafft & A.Y Jackson (Eds.), Rural education for the twenty-first century (pp. 17-33). Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania University Press.

Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience: human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. London, ON: Althouse Press.

Wallin, D. (2008). A comparative analysis of the education priorities and capacity of rural school districts. Educational Management

Administration Leadership, 36, 566-587.

White, S., & Reid, J. (2008). Placing teachers? Sustaining rural schooling through place consciousness in teacher education. Journal of

Research in Rural Education, 23(7), 1-11.

Wyly, E. (2008). Sense of place. Urban Studies 200, Cities. Retrieved October 7, 2013 from

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Publication of the National Rural Education Association -

Report problems or questions about to the website to