It’s just a matter of time: the perceptions of growing our own students of the Growing Our Own program
Barnes, N and van Gelderen, B and Rampmeyer, K, It's just a matter of time: the perceptions of growing our own students of the Growing Our Own program, Learning Communities Article 25. ISSN 2202-7904 (2019) [Refereed Article]
In this paper, we give the Growing Our Own students1 the opportunity to tell us their perceptions of the Growing Our Own program. As Growing Our Own partners and lecturers, it has been easy to provide our view of what we see happening when we work in the Growing Our Own program. We are aware that what this program offers to us, both personally and professionally, is highly valuable. We commonly express the privilege we feel to be working in the program and our talk often turns to the care that is given to and received from the people involved: our students, our mentor teachers, our schools, our relationship with Catholic Education, our teaching, our learning (and learning and learning), our joys, our failures, the extreme hilarity and the sadness we feel at some of the stories we hear of the struggles our students encounter. Contained within all these discussions is our unquestioning assumption that Growing Our Own works. We see it and experience it every time we enter the communities that we work with and despite all the things that could go wrong—intercultural misunderstandings, the danger of the elements and isolation, internal community issues, a lack of language (on our behalf), an often inflexible, mainstream institutional system at schooling and university levels, logistical issues with travel, resources, the extreme need for flexibility—it still works. Evaluations have been done in the past and will be again, so we know that it works (Ebbeck, 2009; Giles, 2010; Maher, 2010). We, as lecturers, regularly share all this, strongly believing that Growing Our Own works from our perspective. But are we wrongly assuming that it is the same for our students? In this paper, we explore what our Growing Our Own students believe is happening that helps them (or doesn’t) to engage, learn, grow and succeed as fully trained teachers in the isolation of remote communities in the Northern Territory (NT), a place that typically challenges the best teachers and the most dedicated teacher education students.