Remembering the One-Room School
Not my school which was SS#12 Proton. This is the closest resemblance I could find. It is SS#10 in Ceylon - a nearby community at the time.
Yes, I am THAT old!
Many of my students would not be surprised as they know I always tell them I’m 99 years old. (I’m not quite that, yet – and I’ve been 99 since 1996, so that can be a wee bit confusing.)
I went to a one-room school for grades one and two. After that, we were bused into town because the one-room school houses were closing down.
At that time the school I went to held grades one to six for the local area. There was another one-room school house down the road for older students.
In the school I started at there was a big wood-burning stove to heat it. Sometimes I would collect kindling for the stove. Depending on where you sat, you could be too hot or not warm enough in the dead of winter.
There was no running water in the school, but there was a kind of outhouse attached to the building. I don’t recall ever using it myself, but I do remember a very upset girl who lost her hat down it one day.
There was a hand pump outside to get water from the underground well. A container of water and a dipper was kept inside the school.
The desks and chairs were wood with the old ink wells still available – but not used by that time. Of course, in grades one and two I was using pencils. I did, however, manage to whack my hand on an upturned pencil in the inkwell. The tiny piece of graphite stayed in my palm and was visible for a couple of decades! It is still in there somewhere.
At recess or lunch, we generally got to play outside; however, the teacher did her best to keep the boys and girls separate during playtime. The swings and teeter totter (seesaw)were both on one side, so she alternated which side the girls would be on and which the boys. I can’t remember how often the switch was made.
Luckily, the walk was not too far, and I enjoyed (and still do) walking anyway. It was always a bit of an adventure. I’m sure now the walk would seem miniscule and not much of an adventure at all, but it was at the time.
When you are a wee tyke and get to walk away (eventually) from your parents and even cross the road to get to school, it gives you a certain sense of freedom. (There was very little vehicular traffic on this road. If you wanted to commit suicide, you better find an alternate method! You’d probably die of starvation or boredom before a car hit you.) Also, most kids walked to school, so there was nothing like the car rush at most schools today.
I can’t say I enjoyed much about the one-room school. I had looked forward to going to school at first. I had to wait because there was no kindergarten in the area, so you had to wait for grade one. Once I got there, I discovered that there were an enormous number of rules that were strictly enforced. The teacher was not my favourite person, either. I tried to like her, but she was just not that easy to like at times. She seemed to take great pride in enforcing every single one of the rules at every single chance she had. Sit up straight, keep your hands above the desk, don’t wiggle about, sit still, look forward, etc.
Oh, and you should be using your right hand. (I remain left-handed, although I was a little ambidextrous for a while because I would switch hands when I saw her coming toward me and then switch back once I thought I was in the clear!)
She had a few odd punishments as well. One of her favourites was to make you sit under her desk and then she would sit down at her desk, so you were basically trapped in a small space under there with her feet for company.
Still, even those experiences did not dampen my thirst for knowledge. I still wanted to learn, and I knew there were lots of interesting bits out there that I didn’t know and wanted to discover.
Throughout my educational career (which continues until death), I have had excellent teachers and not-so-great teachers at all levels. I have had fantastic educational experiences, and a few – though only a few – that I could have done without.
What I have learned overall is that learning is essentially a gift for yourself, and one that you can share with others.
What more could one ask for?
So get out there and keep learning!
The One-Room School: