January 21, 2013

TEEN LIFE WAY BACK WHEN: The One-Room Schoolhouse

From Flickr Commons
Out here on the Great Plains in the nineteenth century, most folks lived and homesteaded on the prairie far from their neighbors.  This presented a problem when it came to school.  Because the pupils were of all ages and grades, the one-room schoolhouse became the answer.  Male teachers were preferred because they could live independently.  However, single female teachers could not and had to lodge with the families of their students.  Once a female teacher married, her teaching career was over.

The schoolhouse was usually located centrally between the homes of the students.  Most of the time, the students walked to school.  In some areas, where it was so sparsely populated and distances were long, the children boarded at the school during the winter rather than attempt to get home each day.

The one-room schoolhouse had some sort of heat source, usually a wood burning stove. There was an outhouse behind the school.  Desks were lined up with the youngest students in the front and the oldest in the back.  The teacher taught all grades, first through eighth,  focusing on one group at a time assigning them a task to do while she turned her attention to another group. Arithmetic, reading, spelling, geography and history were taught among other subjects.

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