September 25, 2009

How I Did It: Teaching in 1918

While rummaging through a pile of unwanted books from my old school's library, I found this fascinating read: How I Did It: A helpful handbook for the teacher made up of devices, chosen for their originality and general usefulness, which will give variety to the schoolroom routine and add to the value and effectiveness of the teacher's work. Published in 1918, it really is amazing to read, there are tips in there that still apply 91 years later.

Some great ideas that I might use when I am eventually a teacher:
  •   Twenty Minutes of Fun: "The many morning tasks and the long tramp along country roads or across fields made arrival at school on time a problem for many pupils. Suggestions as to rising earlier, despatch of duties, talk on promptness as a virtue, written excuses for tardiness (always demanded) proved of little avail. I planned a change. Exactly at nine came reading from "Little Men," or whatever book we chanced to be enjoying...By using extracts from our storybook in our lesson work, more of an interest was aroused. Since I refused to lend my book, every child strove to be present  when it was read, and thus prompt and very nearly perfect attendance was secured. " (pg. 14.)
  •  School Outdoors: "When warm days come, often, as a special treat, I allow my pupils to have school outdoors. We choose a shady spot. Some old boards laid on the ground serve as desks and seats...even the most restless are influenced by the peace of nature on a calm bright day." (pg. 31.)
And some ideas that truly date themselves (Although, they did work for our grandparents oddly enough): 
  • Rural School Health League: "Not all rural schools have Health Leagues, so I am going to explain the purpose of ours and how we are using it to teach constructive hygiene." There is a sample chart that children were expected to fill out each day and points awarded to be added up.  "1. How many slept last night with their windows open at least three inches from top and bottom? (1.) 2. How many brushed their teeth once, twice, three times yesterday? (1,2,3.) 3. How many cleaned their nails, once, twice, three times yesterday (1,2,3.) ...7. How many combed and brushed their hair before coming to school yesterday? (2.) ...11. How many tried to sit and stand correctly yesterday? (1,2,3.) 12. How many took one bath last week? (1.) (pg. 162.)
  • Suggestive Drawings: "Workers with primary grade children like to find ways of obtaining results without the frequent use of "Don't." When Frank leans against the desk, he must be made to remember that this is not school fashion. Suppose we ask 'Are you lame, Frank?' Draw on the board a picture of a stork standing on one leg. Until the children have been some time with you, it will be very well to say occasionally, 'I hope we shall not have many storks in class to-day.' A glance at the picture and a meaning smile will bring good soldier positions, and if visitors happen to be present it will be such a satisfaction to be able to accomplish the result without a word..." (pg. 26.)
 I just love the image of the strict but loving schoolmarm, in her long, crisp modest dress saying some of these things. I must admit, I've been envying this pattern from Ageless Patterns. It is a slightly earlier period than the book, but it is gorgeous. Something tells me the faculty might think ill of me if I really wore that to teach in (maybe I'll create an 'updated' version of it.) 
Picture of 1918-1919 Rural School

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