Monday, April 13, 2009

Hiawatha House


     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 ."