When your schoolyard is 1.3 million square kilometres (502,000 square miles), your teacher is a day’s drive away and your recess break includes feeding your station’s new poddy calves, you can’t help but have a thousand stories to tell. Our School of the Air students love to share their stories and most of them love to show off their unique lives and families. In return, they relish learning how other people live, travel and go to school!
A typical school day for most of our students starts early, as there are always jobs to do before lessons start. Imagine living with your family operating an Outback Roadhouse (service station) and your job is to help clean the dining area before the road train drivers and tourists start arriving. Or perhaps you're a student who lives in a remote Aboriginal community and it’s the season for harvesting bush apples before the day gets too hot. After chores, you have to jump on the computer to dial into your school lesson. You look forward to chatting with your mates who live hundreds of kilometres (miles) away. Your school day has begun.
Just like the vast and diverse country we call home, the history of Alice Springs School of the Air is equally as large and fascinating. It’s a tale of ingenuity, adversity and resilience. Australians are great innovators; they have to be, as this immense arid country challenges us to be great thinkers and inventors. In 1951, when thrown the challenge of educating the children of Australia’s Outback, the pioneers of Alice Springs School of the Air set up the first classrooms to teach children living in remote Australia over the radio waves.
Over the years, the technology used for lessons has changed as much as the style of teaching. When School of the Air first opened, our children listened to lessons without being able to ask questions or talk to their teacher. Their lesson was much like a lecture delivered over the radio waves. Can you imagine how difficult that was for a rambunctious 8-year-old or an inquisitive 11-year-old full of questions about the outside world? Luckily, great innovators and educators put their heads together and built an interactive education service that inspires remote Australian children to strive for and reach their goals, dreams and aspirations.
The stories of our current and past teachers, students, and families along with the changes in technology and schooling are best explored with a visit to Alice Springs School of the Air Experience, however you can take a sneak peek here through our gallery of photographs, student artworks and historic documents.
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