One-room school

One-room school

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One-room schools were commonplace throughout rural
Rural
Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described, country towns and smaller cities will be included. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture...

 portions of various countries including the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In most rural (country) and small town schools, all of the students met in a single room. There, a single teacher taught academic basics to several grade levels of elementary-age
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 boys and girls. While in many areas one-room schools are no longer used, it is not uncommon for them to remain in developing nations and rural areas, such as much of the Falklands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

 and Shetland
Shetland Islands
Shetland is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north and east of mainland Great Britain. The islands lie some to the northeast of Orkney and southeast of the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total...

.

United States



The quality of facilities at one-room schools varied with local economic conditions, but generally, the number of children at each grade level would vary with local populations. Most buildings were of simple frame construction, some with the school bell on a cupola
Cupola
In architecture, a cupola is a small, most-often dome-like, structure on top of a building. Often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome....

. In the Midwest
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

, sod
Sod
Sod or turf is grass and the part of the soil beneath it held together by the roots, or a piece of thin material.The term sod may be used to mean turf grown and cut specifically for the establishment of lawns...

 construction was also used, as well as stone in areas such as portions of the southwest where trees were scarce. In some locations, the schoolhouse was painted red, but most seem to have been white.

Mission Ridge School was one of the early schools built in Mason County, West Virginia
Mason County, West Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 25,957 people, 10,587 households, and 7,569 families residing in the county. The population density was 60 people per square mile . There were 12,056 housing units at an average density of 28 per square mile...

. It has been moved to the West Virginia State Farm Museum complex near Point Pleasant
Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Point Pleasant is a city in Mason County, West Virginia, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. The population was 4,637 at the 2000 census...

. Examination of the materials in this building indicates that boards and timbers were hand-sawed and also hand-planed. Square nails were used throughout the building. Except for the roof and a few boards in the floor, all of the material in this building is original. The blackboard
Chalkboard
A chalkboard or blackboard is a reusable writing surface on which text or drawings are made with sticks of calcium sulfate or calcium carbonate, known, when used for this purpose, as chalk. Chalkboards were originally made of smooth, thin sheets of black or dark grey slate stone...

 really is a black board, made of wide boards painted black. It was not until much later that slate was used for chalkboards, although students often had individual slates for writing practice.

Teacher
Teacher
A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils and students . The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional...

s in one-room schools were often former students themselves. Their role is well-described by a student from Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 in the 1940s: "The teachers that taught in the one room, rural schools were very special people. During the winter months they would get to the school early to get a fire started in the potbelly stove
Potbelly stove
A potbelly stove is a cast-iron wood-burning stove, round with a bulge in the middle. The name is derived from the resemblance of the stove to that of a fat man's pot belly. They were designed to heat large spaces and were often found in train stations or one-room schoolhouses...

, so the building would be warm for the students. On many occasions they would prepare a hot, noon meal on top of the stove, usually consisting of soup or stew of some kind. They took care of their students like a new mother hen would care for her newly hatched chicks; always looking out for their health and welfare."

A typical school day was 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with morning and afternoon recesses of 15 minutes each and an hour period for lunch. "The older students were given the responsibility of bringing in water, carrying in coal or wood for the stove. The younger students would be given responsibilities according to their size and gender such as cleaning the black board (chalkboard), taking the erasers outside for dusting plus other duties that they were capable of doing."

Transportation for children who lived too far to walk was often provided by horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

-drawn kid hack
Kid hack
A kid hack was a horse-drawn vehicle used for transporting children to school in the late 19th and early 20th century in the United States. The word hack, meaning a horse-drawn cab, is short for hackney carriage. The vehicle was actually powered by both horses and mules, and usually loaded at the...

 or sulky
Sulky
A sulky is a lightweight cart having two wheels and a seat for the driver only but usually without a body, generally pulled by horses or dogs, and is used for harness races...

, which could only travel a limited distance in a reasonable amount of time each morning and evening, or students might ride a horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

, these being put out to pasture in an adjoining paddock during the day. In more recent times, students rode bicycle
Bicycle
A bicycle, also known as a bike, pushbike or cycle, is a human-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist, or bicyclist....

s.

The school house was the center and focus for thousands of rural communities, hamlets and small towns. Often, town meetings and picnics were also held there.

The vast majority of one-room schools in the United States are no longer used as schools and have either been torn down or converted for other purposes. However, in some rural communities, including among the Amish
Amish
The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

, one-room or two-room schools are still used, primarily for elementary education, with students graduating to local or regional middle and high schools.

Ireland


In Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, free primary education was mandated in 1831, prompting the establishment of many single-teacher National Schools across rural areas, most initially using a room in an existing building. By the 1850s there was a school in every parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

. Most extant one- and two-room school buildings date from the decades after 1891 when primary education became compulsory. Most of those still in use today have been extended following merger with neighbouring schools. Since 2002, any state-funded school with at least 10 pupils is entitled to at least 2 teachers; the 21 schools which fell below this threshold are located on offshore islands. In recent decades, an increasing number of schools have been founded for parents not content with the National School system. These include Gaelscoil
Gaelscoil
A gaelscoil is an Irish-medium primary school in Ireland, of a sort found outside the traditionally Irish-speaking regions, especially in urban areas....

eanna
(which teach through Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 rather than English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

) and multi-denominational schools (most Irish schools are controlled by one or other of the main Christian churches). Although such schools eventually become eligible for state funding, they usually begin with a single teacher in a room or prefabricated building.

Teacher's residence


The teacher's residence, or teacherage, was often attached to the school, or very close by, so that a male teacher's wife and family were an integral part of the management and support system for the school. Single, female teachers were more often billeted or boarded with a local family to provide for social norms requiring social supervision of single females.

Canada


Many one roomed schools also served as the local chapel on Sundays, and evening/Saturday meeting places for local people and activities. Being mostly rural, many schools had no water or sanitation and this was often provided by converting wells into toilets (through the use of a plank with a hole in it), melting snow for water in the winter and relying on the help of nearby farms in the summer. In the 1950s a milk truck would sometimes come in the summer weeks offering a variety of dairy products (principally milk).

Teaching standards often varied from school to school as the teacher was compelled to coach children of all ages/grades within one room. This sometimes meant younger students often listened to, and became aware of concepts and teaching that, normally, they would not encounter for some years. This has sometimes been presented as being one cause of the "precocious" period of the early 1960s.

Consolidation


Motorized school bus
School bus
A school bus is a type of bus designed and manufactured for student transport: carrying children and teenagers to and from school and school events...

es in the 1920s made longer distances possible, and one-room schools were soon consolidated in most portions of the United States into multiple classroom schools where classes could be held separately for various grade levels. Gradually, one-room school houses were replaced. Most one-room schools had been replaced by larger schools by World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 except in the most rural areas.

However, they are still common in rural parts of Australia. Megalong Public School is a good example of a one-room school.

Preservation: buildings and cultural


In Calvert County, Maryland
Calvert County, Maryland
Calvert County is a county located in the U.S. state of Maryland. It occupies the Calvert Peninsula which is bordered on the east by the Chesapeake Bay and on the west by the Patuxent River. Calvert County is part of the Southern Maryland region. Calvert County's residents are among the highest...

, Port Republic School Number 7 closed its doors in 1932 and sat unused for over 40 years. Then, in 1976 the Calvert Retired Teachers Association, looking for a Bicentennial Year project, decided to restore the one-room schoolhouse. On July 24, 1977, after months of hard work by teachers and community volunteers, the old school bell rang out once more, and the little one-room school house, filled with its memories and memorabilia, was ready for visitors. It is now one of the county's tourist attractions.

A similar project was done in Queen Anne's County, Maryland
Queen Anne's County, Maryland
Queen Anne's County is a county located on the Eastern Shore of the U.S. state of Maryland.As of 2010, the population was 47,798. Its county seat and most populous municipality is Centreville. The census-designated place of Stevensville is the county's most populous place...

 by retired Teachers and Community Volunteers. The restored schoolhouse is located in front of Queen Anne's County High School
Queen Anne's County High School
Queen Anne's County High School is a four-year public high school in Centreville, MD, Queen Anne's County, Maryland, United States. It is one of 2 public high schools in Queen Anne's County along with Kent Island High School.-Overview:...



In Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

, over 125 small one-room school houses have been turned into local museums. The buildings in some places found new purpose as homes.

In Harrisburg, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, Flowerfield School serves as a living museum, and fourth-graders within the Nebraska panhandle spend a day at Flowerfield going through an average school day in 1888. The students have the opportunity to experience both log and sod versions of the house, writing with quill pens, and a trip to the nearby museum, where they learn about other aspects of life in 1888.

The One Room School House Project of Southwestern College
Southwestern College (Kansas)
Southwestern College is a four-year private college affiliated with the United Methodist Church located in Winfield, Kansas, United States. It was founded in 1885 and graduated its first class in 1889. In addition to its campus programs, it offers online programs.-Academics:The main campus is a...

 in Winfield, Kansas
Winfield, Kansas
Winfield is a city situated along the Walnut River in the west-central part of Cowley County, located in South Central Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,301...

, includes listings and information on some 880 schools throughout the state and nation. The information, pictures, and stories included in this site have been collected and sent to the project by researchers and historians from across America.

Copper Harbor, Michigan
Copper Harbor, Michigan
Copper Harbor is a small unincorporated community in northeastern Keweenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is within Grant Township on the Keweenaw Peninsula that juts from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan into Lake Superior.-History:...

 continues to use a one room school house. The Copper Harbor School teaches K-8th grades.
Huron County, Michigan
Huron County, Michigan
-Highways:* M-19* M-25* M-53* M-142-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 36,079 people, 14,597 households, and 10,144 families residing in the county. The population density was 43 people per square mile . There were 20,430 housing units at an average density of 24 per square mile...

 has several one room school house frame structures, with six of the one room school districts still operating and serving students.

Notable students of one-room schools



  • Herbert Hoover
    Herbert Hoover
    Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

    , US President
  • Robert Menzies
    Robert Menzies
    Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, , Australian politician, was the 12th and longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia....

    , the longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia
    Prime Minister of Australia
    The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia is the highest minister of the Crown, leader of the Cabinet and Head of Her Majesty's Australian Government, holding office on commission from the Governor-General of Australia. The office of Prime Minister is, in practice, the most powerful...

     - school at Jeparit, Victoria
    Jeparit, Victoria
    Jeparit is situated on the Wimmera River in Western Victoria, Australia, 370 kilometres north west of Melbourne. At the 2006 census Jeparit had a population of 582.-History:...

  • Hazel Miner
    Hazel Miner
    Hazel Dulcie Miner , the daughter of a North Dakota farmer and a student at a one-room school, died saving her 10-year-old brother, Emmet, and 8-year-old sister, Myrdith, during a spring blizzard in Center, Oliver County, North Dakota.After her death, she became a national heroine...

    , who froze to death in a spring blizzard
    1920 North Dakota blizzard
    The 1920 North Dakota blizzard was a severe blizzard that killed 34 people from March 15 – March 18, 1920 in the state of North Dakota. High winds and an eight-inch snowfall stopped rail service in Bismarck, North Dakota and only one telephone line functioned between Fargo, North Dakota. and...

     in Center, North Dakota
    Center, North Dakota
    As of the census of 2000, there were 678 people, 279 households, and 196 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,743.8 people per square mile . There were 310 housing units at an average density of 797.3 per square mile . The racial makeup of the city was 93.81% White, 0.44%...

     in March 1920, but saved her younger brother and sister by covering them with her own body
  • Joyce Carol Oates
    Joyce Carol Oates
    Joyce Carol Oates is an American author. Oates published her first book in 1963 and has since published over fifty novels, as well as many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction...

    , the Pulitzer-prize-winning writer, who attended a one-room schoolhouse in upstate New York
  • Alan B. Shepard, Jr., the first American in space and one of only twelve astronauts to have walked on the moon, attended a one-room schoolhouse in East Derry, New Hampshire
    East Derry, New Hampshire
    East Derry is an unincorporated village in the town of Derry in Rockingham County, New Hampshire. The village center constitutes the East Derry Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places....

    .
  • Jimmy Wales
    Jimmy Wales
    Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales is an American Internet entrepreneur best known as a co-founder and promoter of the online non-profit encyclopedia Wikipedia and the Wikia company....

    , Wikipedia co-founder
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder was an American author who wrote the Little House series of books based on her childhood in a pioneer family...

    , who later dramatised her experiences in one-room schoolhouses as both student and teacher in Little House on the Prairie
    Little House on the Prairie (novel)
    Little House on the Prairie is a children's novel by Laura Ingalls Wilder and was published in 1935. This book is the third of the series of books known as the Little House series....

    and other children's novels

See also

  • Ungraded school
    Ungraded school
    An ungraded school is a school that does not formally organize students according to age-based grade levels. Students' achievements are assessed by teachers, and each student is individually assigned to one of several fluid groups, according to what the student needs to learn next.Typically,...

  • A-b-c-darian
    A-b-c-darian
    A-B-C-darians, ABC-darians, or abecedarians were the youngest students in the typical one-room school of 19th-century America, so-called because they were just learning their “a-b-cs.” It could also refer to someone teaching the alphabet.-Early references:In his autobiographical reminiscences on...

    , the youngest students in a one-room school


External links