Education comes to the circus
ALTHOUGH the nomadic lifestyle of the Jolie-Pitts has cast the spotlight on the educational needs of travelling children, University of Southern Queensland academic Professor Patrick Danaher was interested in the field decades before it became trendy.
Professor Danaher, who is the Associate Dean in the Faculty of Education, said he first considered it as a possible research topic while he was working in central Queensland in 1991.
“The show was coming to town,” he said.
“Some colleagues and I were chatting in the lunchroom and we wondered: ‘How do these children get an education?’.”
This simple discussion sparked an ongoing interest and rigorous research in the fascinating field of mobile education.
“The education system is based on people living in one place – mobile learners disrupt those associations,” Professor Danaher said.
“But there are an amazing number of people who are mobile at various points of their lives, including people who work in the armed forces and people who are homeless.
“For Indigenous people and Gypsy Travellers or Roma mobility is a part of their culture. So, because of their work or culture, a lot of people are mobile at some point.”
Professor Danaher’s research has focused on the fairground community and the circus industry.
That research has also led to some travelling on his own, including research in the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands.
He now plans to collaborate with fellow USQ Faculty of Education researcher, Associate Professor Robyn Henderson, who has done equivalent work with seasonal workers in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.