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School Interior, Near Princetown, c. 1900

Education.  Interior of Rural school
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_A2637
 
Document Description
Students sitting at their desks in a one-room schoolhouse near Princetown, New York, circa 1900.
 
Questions
What do you see in this picture?
How is this classroom different from or the same as your classroom?
What is the large piece of equipment in the middle of the classroom?  Why is it in the room?
Where might a classroom like this one be located?
Is there a difference between this classroom and the one from the early 1940s? In what ways are the two classrooms different?
 
Historical Challenges
Find out what the classroom rules might have been in this room. How would the children be punished if they misbehaved?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Make a pie chart showing the number of girls and boys in this classroom.
Science: Practice using an inkwell and a quill to write with. Compare and contrast it with the writing utensils that we use today.
English Language Arts: Interview a grandparent about his/her school memories. Use this information to write a letter to a friend about what a day at school was like in the "olden days".
 
Resources
Barasch, Lynne. A Country Schoolhouse. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2004. ISBN: 0374315779
 
Brent, Lynnette R. At School: Long Ago and Today (Time Change Series). Heinemann, August 2003. ISBN: 1403445338
Brent, Lynnette R. Clothing (Time Change Series). Heinemann, October 2003. ISBN: 1403445400
Gulliford, Andrew. America's Country Schools. University Press of Colorado, September 1997. ISBN: 0870814222
 
Thomas, Mark. School in Colonial America. Scholastic Library Publishing, March 2002. ISBN: 0516234943
 

Historical Context
This is a photograph of a typical American school around 1900.  Students walked to school in those days.  They would go home for lunch or bring a lunch from home.  Girls wore dresses to school, and the boys wore knickers or shorts.  There were no field trips.  The children studied math, English, spelling, art, geography, and civics (citizenship).  Notice how the desks are bolted to the floor.  They could not be moved to make other seating arrangements. 
 
Essential Question
How does culture influence a society's education system?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and identify key characteristics of the American education system during this time period.