A Day In The Life: 19th-Century Students

The school day would typically start around 8 a.m. Before school started, students would need to finish their chores on the farm, and then walk up to 3 miles to school. Teachers would also commonly assigned morning duties (to be finished before 8 a.m.) to older, stronger students. This included gathering firewood in the winter and collecting water for drinking and washing.

Before classes could begin, schools had a ritualized practice to go through. The students would line up outside in two lines (boys and girls) from youngest to oldest. Then, the girls would enter the school, curtseying/bowing to the teacher as they walked by. The girls would then stand at attention and wait for the boys to follow their lead. After all the students entered the school children would recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This would be followed by either the Lord’s Prayer or a moral lesson that typically involved the Bible. Finally, children would be seated, take roll call, and begin the academic portion of the day.

Reading was the first lesson taught. The teacher would assign work for each level, and once students were working, one level would be called to the front to “toe the line”. This meant that they would be required to recite a passage from memory or read aloud from a textbook. When it came time for arithmetic class, the teacher would have the younger children solve problems on the blackboard. After this was finished, the older students would come to the front and practice solving math problems orally. Penmanship came next. Students would write their names, dates, and a moral saying. Penmanship class was accompanied by an oral explanation of the written morals.

Lunch was next. After students ate, they would gather more firewood and water if necessary. Then they could use the remaining time to play.

The first lesson of the afternoon would be grammar and spelling. This would be followed by a history lesson. The last class of the day was geography.

After the teacher assigned chores for the next day, most students would gather their things and head home. The teacher could give after school punishments to students who misbehaved. This commonly involved some sort of cleaning. Thus, you have a day in the life of a 19th-century student.

 

Sources

The Late Nineteenth Century One Room School, by Oak Hill School Teacher’s Resource and Curriculum Guide

http://mentalfloss.com/article/58705/11-ways-school-was-different-1800s

 

A Day In The Life: 19th-Century Students

The school day would typically start around 8 a.m. Before school started, students would need to finish their chores on the farm, and then walk up to 3 miles to school. Teachers would also commonly assigned morning duties (to be finished before 8 a.m.) to older, stronger students. This included gathering firewood in the winter and collecting water for drinking and washing.

Before academics could begin, schools had a ritualized practice to go through. The students would line up outside in two lines (boys and girls) from youngest to oldest. Then, the girls would enter the school, curtseying/bowing to the teacher as they walked by. The girls would stand at attention and wait for the boys to follow their lead. After all the students entered the school, children would recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This would be followed by either the Lord’s Prayer or a moral lesson typically involving the Bible. Finally, children would be seated, take roll call, and begin the academic portion of the day.

Reading was the first lesson taught. The teacher would assign work for each level, and once students were working, one level would be called to the front to “toe the line”. This meant that they would be required to recite a passage from memory or read aloud from a textbook. When it came time for arithmetic class, the teacher would have the younger children solve problems on the blackboard. After this was finished, the older students would come to the front and practice solving math problems orally. Penmanship came next. Students would write their names, dates, and a moral saying. Penmanship class was accompanied by an oral explanation of the written morals.

Lunch was next. After students ate, they would gather more firewood and water if necessary. Then they could use the remaining time to play.

The first lesson in the afternoon would be grammar and spelling. This would be followed by a history lesson. The last class of the day was geography.

After the teacher assigned chores for the next day, most students would gather their things and head home. The teacher could give after school punishments to students who misbehaved. This commonly involved some sort of cleaning. Thus, you have a day in the life of a 19th-century student.

 

Sources

The Late Nineteenth Century One Room School, by Oak Hill School Teacher’s Resource and Curriculum Guide

http://mentalfloss.com/article/58705/11-ways-school-was-different-1800s

 

19th Century Education: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

The school year in the 1800s was scheduled around the planting and harvesting schedule and had two terms running from May-August and November-April. The schools had one room, where students of all ages would learn. The typical arrangement would be for younger students to sit in the front and older students to sit in the back, but this wasn’t always the case because students were grouped by ability. Students would move towards the back (~equivalent to moving up a grade level) when the teacher decided they were ready.

In school,  the students would focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic. This lead to the common saying the 3 R’s. However, there was a fourth R, recitation. During this time period writing utensils and paper were harder to come by, many schools would make due with only chalk and a blackboard. Since students couldn’t record information on paper, memorization was prioritized. Recitation came about because it was an effective way to test what students had learned using the available (minimal) resources.

As every student was in one room, the teacher needed to come up with strategies for classroom management. Some of these were punishments. A more proactive method was the Lancasterian System (Monitoring System). This involved having more knowledgeable students teach those who were less knowledgeable. There were two primary benefits of this strategy. It reduced the number of teachers needed, saving communities money. And it gave every student a task, reducing misbehavior.

However, many parents were not pleased that their child was losing instruction time teaching a weaker student. This lead to the pupil-teacher movement. A child who wanted to become a teacher would begin a 5-year apprenticeship at age 13 under the head teacher. Some of the more successful schools using the pupil-teacher approach went on to become normal schools (Teachers Colleges).

 

Sources

The Late Nineteenth Century One Room School, by Oak Hill School Teacher’s Resource and Curriculum Guide

https://www.britannica.com/topic/monitorial-system

http://mentalfloss.com/article/58705/11-ways-school-was-different-1800s