Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Old One Room country School

      This was the fifth post I made when I started blogging. I was disappointed to find out that no one read it so I'm posting it again. When I read this about my life I find it hard to believe that this is my experience in school. It's long ago and far away.Red

     Where in the world would I come up with a name Hiawatha House for my blog ? Did I see something like this somewhere else? Did I have a streak of creativity . Well, actually none of the above .

     I went to a rural one room school for nine years from the mid forties to the mid fifties . Yes, you can think ahead and guess ... the name of the school ...Hiawatha School District #1720. I, like many others who attended such schools look back with fondness to such schools and therefore honor my old school a bit by naming my blog Hiawatha house .

     I looked forward to going to school as we were somewhat isolated on prairie farms and therefore it was a place to have many playmates and fellow students . We were active on the playground before school began at nine AM. Games were played . Activities from the previous day were continued such as building a snow house or fort .There were chores to be done like putting the horse away for the day, starting a fire in the big stove or getting the day's supply of water . All of these things were done with other kids . It was like a very large family as the enrolment was from nine to seventeen students while I attended .The day proceeded with classes , recesses and noon hours.

      Since there were one to nine or ten grades in a one room school, the teacher had to arrange to have all grades organized so that they were active in the learning process at all times . Much independent work was done by the students . Students helped one another . You couldn't help but hear other lessons or activities going on around you . If you were in grade one you could listen to a grade eight science lesson . By the time you got to grade eight you'd heard the lesson seven times ! Was it boring ? No, it was your turn to be involved in the lesson that you had waited so many years for . Teachers changed and the grade eight science lesson changed . Many activities involved the whole school ...Christmas concerts . All students performed and sometimes the little guys performed with the big guys as a school choir . Think how proud the little guys were to be in something with with the big guys . Our ball teams were made up from usually grade threes to nine. We were immensely proud of these teams when we played other rural schools .

     From grade four to nine I was the only one in the class . I proudly claim that I was top of the class for five years in a row . Besides this I liked working independently . I would do my work fairly quickly , and behave myself so I was not noticed . Why? Then I could read . I loved to read . I would quietly chose a library book from the small book case we had and read . Some of the books I read many times . The school had encyclopedias which I would spend hours thumbing through . I'm sure that most of the time the teacher appreciated me getting lost and not being a nuisance . I'm sure some of the teachers were bright enough to realize that what I was doing was certainly contributing to my progress . I would read and have one ear on what was going on in the classroom ...multi tasking!!

     So the country school was a very pleasant place to spend your time . I have always looked back with pleasure at the time I spent in a rural school . Was it a totally successful learning venue ? Not really . Apologies to those who look on country schools as great learning institutions . There were many positive things which occurred , but many things were absent . We learned the basics , but often not much more . I learned to be a good reader and independent , but didn't learn to be assertive or competitive . As a result when I went to a small high school and later university , I found it difficult to be very active and participate in learning activities . I had not learned to discuss , question or write with any degree of competence .

      However , I do look back with fondness to the time spent in a rural school . We were more than a school ...more a large family with community involvement .

     So here's to you Hiawatha school!

     Hiawatha School closed in June of 1955 with only six students attending in the final year .

     There are many interesting books written about the rural school . One author is John C. Charyk. He has written several interesting accounts of rural schools . Try "The White School House" or "Syrup Pails and Gopher Tails ."


  1. Such fond memories, Red. Having grown up in Montreal, I can't imagine what a rural area school would have been like so I'm happy to read about your experience. I'm glad you reposted. Thank you for sharing it.

    I feel just a tad guilty though.. your school closed down the month I was born. ;)

  2. My father taught in a one room schoolhouse when he started his career.... I wish I had had the experience of being taught in one...for most of my education was taught in classes of 30 to 40 students.. It was intimidating and overwhelming...and impersonal.

  3. Wendy, I also taught in the one room school for my first year. Now that's another story. Thanks for visiting Hiawatha House

  4. Hilary, don't feel guilty. That's what I get for being old. My little brother was born in 1955. I've posted on that.

  5. Lovely memories. Sounds more like home schooling without the rigors ;))
    I would have loved such an atmosphere although as you say, its very difficult to adapt to the real world later on.. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!

  6. I barely remember my childhood schools, but I know for a fact that we had one teacher per grade! I can't imagine being in such a small school, but I think whatever it was, you turned out pretty much all right!

  7. DJan, I like your last comment. Now there are many ways to look at "You turned out all right." Very few of us finished high school or went beyond high school as we weren't prepared for that. However, most kids became very successful and competent citizens. One guy never learned to read much. He still became a highly successful farmer. We were like a large family with a Mom who was the teacher.

  8. Ruby, I think it would be impossible for you to realize how sparse the population was and now it's far less. My Dad farmed 320 acres at one time. Now my family farms 8000 acres which means nobody else lives there.There are many farms that are larger than this.

  9. This time the post got read...longevity pays off...

    Some say that we should have mixed grades in the regular schools as kids learn from listening to the upper grade's lessons...don't know if that would work, but it did to a certain extent before...

    As a side note, I have too many roosters...six in one coop and seven in the other, plus some youngun's coming up...like to listen to them in the mornings...

  10. Judy, the one room school worked like that for me but I think for a lot of little kids that didn't happen. It's a different time and age where kids have exposure to TV Computers, games i pads and much more.
    I well remember the roosters crowing early in the morning but that hasn't been part of my life since 1957. They don't have chickens at home anymore.

  11. blogger must not keep consistent track as I have read every blog you posted. I took a day and read backwards through each one, so don't be disappointed your posts are probably read more that stats note. Hugs!

  12. A university education is over rated. We're desperate for skilled trades in this part of Canada!

    Hubby attended a one room school house. He loathed school!
    I loved teaching split grades. There were much fun, for the reasons you cited.
    Glad you reposted. Cheers from rainy Cottage Country!

  13. Jenn, my first year teaching was in the one room school. It was a very influential year.I liked modified classes. I would take a dozen kids who weren't coping well in a regular program and work with them for a year . Sometimes they might learn something but I did keep them out of other teacher's hair and away from kids who would bother them. 15 cm of snow here.

  14. Yeah Tess, I know counters are only aprox. Do you remember reading the school one?
    This is a post that I really got satisfaction out of writing. I wish I had some pictures.

  15. Great blog Red, I loved hearing about your experiences in Country School. I just missed Country School..a new school was built..I can remember going there for special days in the community..at Christmas and picnics in the Fall and in the Spring..community..everyone knew everyone and now a days hardly anyone knows their neighbors. ( I do know most of mine! But I have lived here a long time.) :)

  16. Far side, most of these little communities had a very close and supportive relationship. They couldn't go very far so they had to like each other. We went on a regular basis to other homes for dinners and an evening.

  17. We still have a few small schools over here - but nothing as small as the kind you describe. It is good to go back to some of these early posts and discover the origins of Hiawatha House.

  18. Alan, first I didn't know how to repost and then I questioned whether it was useful to repost. I've had a surprising amount of response on these posts.
    The schools were small here at that time because the population was sparse and transportation did not allow for transporting children any great distance to a larger school.