Going to school is quite a bit different today when you compare it with going to school in the ’30s but much of it seems the same. Mom and Dad get the kids up and ready for another day of school.
That’s the same. There is still the struggle to get everyone ready and breakfast eaten. There is still the kid that says, “I’m sick. I don’t think I should go today.” Probably he didn’t have his homework done!
In the ’30s there were little one room schoolhouses dotted all around America. Usually they were painted red, but sometimes you’d find a white one. The kids all walked to school, sometimes a long way. I remember one little guy who rode his tricycle to school, except when it was raining or snowing! There was only one teacher for all eight grades. It was her job to build the fire in the big heating stove, although she usually gave the job to the older boys. It was also her job to sweep the floor every day and scrub it every week. She opened the day with prayer before she began the lessons, and lessons she did have! They would seem quite hard to the kids of today. Here is a sample of a grammar test given to the older students:
1. Define grammar. How is it usually divided?
2. Define conjugation.
3. What is tense? Name and define the tenses.
4.Name the classes of pronouns. What is a personal pronoun?
5.Write a sentence having for its predicate the potential, present perfect, third, plural form of the verb write.
6. Write a sentence containing an adjective clause.
Pretty rough, huh? No wonder the kids waited for their 15 minute recess! But there were good things too. They could have a Christmas tree and the children dressed up like Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds and Wisemen. Of course one of the girls brought a doll who played the part of Jesus. This Christmas program was put on for their parents and the carols of Christmas were always sung. The program was always followed by the Christmas vacation. We went through the same excitement for every holiday in the year.
The teacher had to sign a contract before she could teach. I believe every teacher today would declare they wouldn’t sign it, but the teachers in the ’30s did. Here are some of the items in the contract:
Miss Doe agrees:
1.Not to get married. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher marries.
2.Not to have company with men.
3.Not to leave town without the permission of the Chairman of the Board.
4.Not to smoke cigarettes or drink beer, whiskey or wine. This contract is null and void immediately if found drinking or smoking.
5.Not to dress in bright colors.
6.Not to wear face powder, mascara or to paint the lips.
7.To wear at least two petticoats.
8. Not to wear dresses more that two inches from the ankle.
9 Keep the schoolhouse clean.
Of course these items were probably the norm for the day by all ladies! But I think we are too lax in our schools today. We give each child a ribbon even if the child doesn’t do well. It seems that takes away trying to do your best. We have taken away any thought of God and can’t even sing the Christmas Carols or read the Bible. Back in the ’30s we had Bible reading every day!
Perhaps we should take a look at schools in the ’40s or ’50s and maybe we’d find what we are missing today. We owe it to our kids to make some changes, don’t we?