Beyond the Line in Bourke
By Ashlee Emmerton Watching the flat, spinifex-dotted landscape give way to the first hills through the bus window I was sorry to be leaving Bourke High School, but inspired by my time there. In June I took part in the DEC’s Beyond the Line program which gives teaching students the opportunity to spend time in rural schools and get a feel for the unique opportunities and challenges that teaching ‘beyond the line’ present.
Twenty seven students from UNE, the University of Newcastle and the University of Sydney attended the week-long program and visited schools in Moree, Narrabri, Warialda, Wee Waa, Brewarrina and Bourke. Those of us in Bourke had a tour of the school buildings and resources, observed and helped out with classes in our subject areas, and attended the school’s athletics carnival. We all had plenty of opportunity to speak with students and teachers about their experiences of the school and the Bourke community, have our questions answered, our ideas clarified and learn things about teaching and living in Bourke that we hadn’t ever thought of; for example, it’s a three hour drive for a haircut!
I applied for Beyond the Line because I wanted to teach in schools in rural and remote areas. Having spent this time at such a school, I now know with confidence that the rural teaching environment is for me. There are many benefits, both professional and personal, of teaching west of the line. However, I also learned a lot about the challenges of life in quite an isolated community and feel like I have a more grounded and realistic conception of the difficulties of relocating to such areas.
Beyond the Line was an amazing experience and I strongly urge anyone considering teaching in rural areas to apply for this program. You will not only gain invaluable insight into the teaching environment and experiences of teachers already working in the school you visit, but make many wonderful friends and network with fellow teachers along the way.
Ashley is studying a Diploma in Education to teach English and Society and Culture. She likes terrible jokes and reading about ornithology.