In America, a pastor made it his practice to visit the church school one day a week. On this particular week he chose the fourth-grade class. As the minister walked in, the students were studying the states of the union. The clergyman asked the children how many they could name and they came up with about forty of the fifty. The reverend then boasted that in his school days he could name all of the states; to which one lad raised his hand and replied, “Yes sir, but in your day there were only thirteen of them!”
Well, school certainly has changed from the old days and looking back to the 1800s, here are ten ways:
#1 One-room schoolhouses were the norm. A single teacher taught grades one-eight together. The youngest students sat in the front, while the oldest pupils sat in the back. The room was heated by a single wood stove.
#2 There was no transportation to get to school. Most schoolhouses were built to serve students living within four-to-five miles, which pupils walked to and back.
#3 The school year was much shorter, 130 days instead of the now standard 170, and average attendance was 60% (meaning most students missed around 50 days of classes a year). The school day started at 9:00 in the morning and ended at 2:00 in the afternoon, with one hour for lunch/recess called “nooning”
#4 Boys and girls entered through separate doors and were kept separate in the classroom.
#5 Forget about things like laptops and printers. Students made do with just a slate and some chalk.
#6 No meals were provided by the school. Kids brought their lunches to school in metal pails. Every student drank water from a bucket filled by older boys, all using the same cup.
#7 Except for the final exam, there were no tests. The teacher would give the lesson, the students would memorize the lesson and the teacher would then bring the students to the front of the class to recite it.
#8 Teachers lived with their student’s families, moving weekly from one home to another. This was called, “boarding round”.
#9 Discipline was quite strict. Corporal punishment was inflicted upon either the hand or head of the student, with the teacher using a ruler or a pointer. Other punishments included: for girls (writing what they will do again 100 times on the blackboard) or for boys (holding a heavy book for an hour).
#10 For many, education ended after the eighth grade; and students had to pass a final exam to graduate (see insert for test before proceeding in reading).
The bottom line? All of this gives a whole new meaning to the oft-heard phrase, “Sorry, I only had an eighth grade education!”