Exceptional Schoolteachers Taught In One-Room Schoolhouse

The three Rs were the basics in the one-room schoolhouse.

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As with any elementary school, major emphasis was on the Three Rs. It is hard to comprehend how one teacher could lead one class each day for each grade, five days a week, and include all learning experiences suggested for elementary grades. Perhaps we had exceptional teachers.

Basic courses were taught each day. But each of these included much more than its title might suggest. Language included reading, grammar, penmanship, creative writing and an array of other activities.

In all classes, it seems preparation for life was included, and it was expected that often future lives were as farmers.

A class titled agriculture was held once a week for all students fourth grade and up, combined in one class and meeting weekly for the entire year. Content was educational and practical. We were required to measure our own corn cribs, for instance, and determine how many bushels of shucked corn it would hold. Some of the work sounded like conservation or ecology work of today: contour plowing, conserving moisture practices, dry farming, rotation of crops, testing seeds for satisfactory sprouting ability and many other learnings.

It seemed there were countless opportunities to coordinate class activities to reinforce total learning. This was quite an accomplishment to a teacher who was certified to teach directly after high school, providing she had selected "normal" classes in high school. All teachers were single; it was not legal to hire a married woman.

Edna Easter
Independence, Missouri

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.