School of the Air
school lessons by radio for outback students
Adelaide Miethke was vice-president of the South Australian wing of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and a former inspector of girl's schools. In 1946 she noticed that outback children were very good at using the Flying Doctor two-way radio. Those same children often lived a long way from schools and had to board, or study by correspondence, or travel for ages every day to get to school.
Miethke put two and two together and used her skill as an adminstrator and her influence to start the School of the Air, a way of bringing the classroom into outback homes via radio. Teachers would sit at a radio transceiver and talk to students one at a time about lessons that had been sent to them by mail. The rest of the 'class' listened in.
The first lessons were transmitted from the Alice Springs Flying Doctor Base in 1949 and the Alice Springs School of the Air was founded in 1951. Other schools followed and by the 1980s a dozen of them served students dotted over 1.5 million square kilometres of the country.
Experts from the School of the Air have advised other countries on distance education. Today, new technologies such as satellites, computers, fax and email have been introduced to improve communication between students and teachers.
Who Did It?
South Australian Correspondence School : teaching
Royal Flying Doctor Service : communications
Adelaide Miethke : originator
Leslie Dodd : teacher
Graham Pitts : RFDS director
School of the Air
Rigby, Adelaide, 1978.
Mount Isa School of
the Air. Listen to some lessons on radio
Alice Springs School of
of the Air
Australia Schools of the Air
Augusta School of the Air
Headland School of the Air
Royal Flying Doctor Service