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Country SchoolsI don't know what "Go to the cloakroom right now" meant when you were growing up, but when Mrs. Fingelrud said it to me, it didn't mean I had forgotten to hang my coat up. From arriving early to light the stove to staying late to wash off the blackboards to hauling up the drinking water to organizing the annual community Christmas program, the one-room school teacher was really a jack-of-all-trades and a master of all! Oh yes, she also taught...all subjects and most ages, and often these teachers were still in their teens and living with a family of strangers. (Later on teachers could have had a little 'relief' if they hadn't been so serious about being good role models. They could have taken a whiff of the fluid used in the mimeograph machines and had a little buzz going for a while, but I don't suppose the students showed them how).
Harker's One-Room Schoolhouses: Visions of an Iowa Icon Photography by Michael P. Harker
Iowa's documentary photographer, Michael Harker, has a goal to record Iowa’s historically significant architecture before it disappears forever. His preferred subjects—artistically shot in stark but stunning black and white format—are barns, one-room schools, courthouses, rural churches, banks, and houses from rural areas and small towns. His previous book, "Harker's Barns" received rave reviews, and this book promises the same. An essay by Paul Theobold, nationally known for his expertise in rural education, complements Harker's artistic portrayal of the decay of yet another rural icon, the one-room schoolhouse, which served generations as a social and community center as well as being the hub of education.
ED 2 - 15 Paperback $24.95
Country School Memories by Bonnie Hughes Falk (Minnesota)
This book is exactly what the title says. Falk has compiled many short memories from people, both pupils and teachers, who experienced the one-room school first-hand. Heartwarming and often humorous, the recollections summon up often fond thoughts about long walks in all kinds of weather, skunks and snowstorms, the smell of wet mittens drying on a wood-burning stove, syrup pail lunches, and especially the bonds of early and lasting friendships. Although this book is not new (copyright 1986), the number of people contributing makes this one of the most inclusive on the subject of country school life.
ED 2 - 9 Paperback $8.95
One-Room Country Schools by Jerry Apps (Wisconsin)
Subtitled 'History and
Recollections from Wisconsin,' this book combines memories of pupils,
recollections of teachers, historical facts, pictures and even an
appendix about 'Recess Games.' More than just one person's
memories, this book is a good resource for anyone studying the history,
success and impact of these institutions.
Stone Johnny School by Erling Rolfsrud (North Dakota)
In a delightful homespun way
Erling Rolfsrud relates his experiences as a teacher in a one-room
schoolhouse on the prairie of North Dakota, including teaching the
beautiful 'Palmer Penmanship Method' to students whose hands were more
at home with a gopher trap or pitchfork.
Little Red Schoolhouse by Eric
The one-room schoolhouse can still be found, but usually in museums. In other words, we are now paying for the privilege of entering a structure that former students might have paid to avoid. This is rather like paying for potting soil or landscape rocks, something I occasionally do. I am somewhat glad my farmer father doesn't see this extravagant behavior of mine.
If you can't tour a museum school, another way to learn about education's bygone era is through this book. Eric Sloane, whose landscape paintings were similar to artists in the Hudson River School, was also an author of illustrated books about cultural history and folklore. His books take us back to simpler times. The Little Red Schoolhouse does just that as we study Sloane's sketches and read his text about rough-hewn "double/triple" desks and paper as a precious commodity, and as we learn the meanings of somewhat archaic words like "moonlighting" and "blackboards," the iPads of yesteryear.
ED 2 - 07 Paperback $5.95