Hats Off To One-Room Schoolhouses

One-room schoolhouses played significant role in America.

| Good Old Days

Recently my granddaughter invited me to visit her ultra-modern school. I could not but wonder if students today have any concept of the one-room schoolhouses that served America for more than a century and played a significant role in developing the firm foundation upon which this nation stands ¬schools that many of their ancestors attended.

The one-room school wore many hats. Its main purpose, of course, was to serve as a place to educate the children of the early settlers, but it was much more than that. The Literary Society, school and community programs, box socials, pie suppers, square dances, and last-day-of-school picnics held there made it the center of community activity.

Above the chalkboard on the front wall a large Seth Thomas clock faithfully proclaimed the time of day. On the east wall, just above the slate, a Palmer Method alphabet, approximately a foot high, challenged us daily to learn to write both capitals and lower case letters perfectly.

"Background noise" in the one-room school was a geography lesson about the giant pyramids in Egypt, the explanation of a problem in long-division, or how to diagram a simple sentence showing the subject, predicate and object. Slower learners profited from the repetition, quick learners absorbed material far beyond their years.

We learned to be participators. Spelling bees, ciphering matches, states-and-capitals contests, debates - we considered them games. Without realizing we were studying we acquired arithmetic skills, knowledge of geography and a good understanding of the fine contributions made by such men as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

We learned early that each individual was important to the team. On the playground, every youngster was included. School sports were not reserved for a few gifted athletes with the rest being merely spectators. Playing fair, taking turns, learning to be good losers as well as winners, all were part of our school day.

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