Children today go to school in large, modern buildings with hundreds of other students. Every year, when they change grades, they have a different teacher. Starting in middle school, students move to a different classroom for every subject. But it wasn't always so. A hundred years ago, most students attended one room schoolhouses. What was it like for them?

Well, Mr. Ventura, Principal of Canaan Elementary School, wanted to give the students and teachers a chance to find out.   Click here for full article.




Students from all grades up to usually grade eight attended  one school. This was still considered Elementary School.  They were seated by grade, and often with the boys on one side of the room and the girls on the other. The day would start with the boys bowing and the girls curtsying to the teacher. Then there would be a reading from the Bible or some other book. From then on students would work quietly on their assignments while each class was called up for a lesson at the recitation bench.



School was not meant to be fun in those days. Everything the students learned was memorized and it was meant to be hard work. The most important topics were reading, writing, and arithmetic, with writing, or penmanship, being the one most stressed. However, there were no pens and paper. The students wrote on stone slates with slate pencils. The older students may have used dipping pens and paper, but these were very easy to smudge and quite frustrating to use.

Discipline was strict, and punishment was always handed out. Students who misbehaved would have to sit in the corner, or for greater offences they would be hit with a hickory rod.

At the end of the day, some students would be asked to help with chores, such as wiping the blackboards, cleaning the chalkbrushes, or bringing wood in for the next day's fire. Then they would walk home, or ride horses in some cases.

Life wasn't much better for the schoolteacher. Pay was usually very low and the teachers were often very young. Sometimes a teacher's contract would even extend to their social life, giving them a curfew and stipulating what sort of events they were permitted to attend.

In addition to teaching, the teacher was expected to get water from the well, light the fire for warmth in the schoolhouse every day, raise and lower the flag, sweep and scrub the floors, and wash the windows.

Given the choice between going to school today and going to school in the days of the one room schoolhouse, which would you choose?

Please read on to hear what the students had to say after their first experience.


WB01345_.gif (1360 bytes)


History information was obtained from

Webmaster: Susan Stein/Tooter4Kids