nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘one room school

early schooling – what to do at recess

with 8 comments

When I was young, recess was a big deal. You had to take a treat to eat and something for play. In Grade Three, tops were all the rage. My Dad made me a top from a wooden spool and we painted it in a rainbow of colours. I can still see it spinning on the concrete step. We also played hop-scotch, ball games like Ordinary Secretary, marbles, skipping and tag.

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April 30, 2016 'top made from a wooden spool' Jane Tims

April 30, 2016 ‘top made from a wooden spool’ Jane Tims

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I am lucky to have some of my Dad’s writing about his early years and his experiences in a one room school. He went to the Weaver Settlement School in Digby County in Nova Scotia in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He tells about some of the activities at the school, especially at recess. Fishing was popular, as well as playing ball and trading jack knives.

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… There was a well out beside the school and it was a good appointment to take care of the water-cooler for a day of a week … Gave a student time off from books…

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… There was a brook nearby … In fall we usually built a dam so the brook became a pond for winter … A place to skate or just play on the ice …every moment of recess and noon was spent there …

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… The big contest was ‘who comes to school first in bare feet ’ … Our parents had control, not full control as there were hiding places for shoes and stockings along the way to school …

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Dad as a boy holding horse

Dad with the family horse Goldie in about 1930

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am certain recess is still a favorite time for school kids – time to talk with friends, play games and get a little break from the classroom. I think we could all build a little ‘recess’ into our busy lives!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

 

early schooling in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – including nature study

with 4 comments

Of all the classes given in 1888 in New Brunswick, I would have liked ‘Useful Knowledge’ the best. This is where I might have learned about birds and plants and butterflies.

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Bringing ‘Useful Knowledge’ into the classroom may have been a greater challenge than it appears. The focus was on  the three R’s (reading,’riting, and ‘rithmetic) and scarce resources meant less time for ‘frivolous’ subjects. In the neighboring province of Nova Scotia, educators faced a challenge when they tried to bring studies about the out-of-doors into the classroom. The situation in New Brunswick would have been similar.

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In her book Loran Arthur DeWolfe and The Reform of Education in Nova Scotia 1891-1959 (Truro, Nova Scotia: Atlantic Early Learning Productions, 1989), my aunt, Dr. Jane Margaret Norman described the situation in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Nova Scotia.  Dr. DeWolfe, Director of Rural Science Schools in Nova Scotia from 1913 to 1924, focused on including studies of nature and in particular agriculture in the schools. These were times of rural out-migration – interest in staying and working on the family farm paled in comparison to the adventures promised by leaving for the west. Dr. DeWolfe was convinced that the only way to keep people in rural areas was to interest them, from the start of their education, in the world of nature.

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Aunt Jane's book

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His solution was to include in the curriculum ‘field days’, ‘spring gardens’, folk dancing, lessons in canning food, ‘Planting Days’, and school fairs. My dad, who would have attended elementary school in the late 1920s, remembered Dr. DeWolfe visiting his school in rural Digby County. He told my aunt that Dr. DeWolfe “… always had something to say about nature.”

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Dad as a boy holding horse

My dad as a boy (holding the horse Goldie). Dad grew up in a rural area and attended a one room school. He remembered Dr. DeWolfe’s visits to that school and his emphasis on paying attention to the out-of-doors. Dad became a teacher and, as my teacher in Grade Six, taught me about the solar system and the cause of our seasons. He also taught me how to make a whistle from a willow twig.

 

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In New Brunswick, by 1888, ‘Useful Knowledge’ would have introduced many students in New Brunswick to nature studies. In rural schools (Ungraded Schools in Country Districts), the classes in Standard I (Grade 1) included ‘oral lessons on animals’ and, in Standard II (Grade 2) ‘natural specimens where possible’. Standard III (Grade 3) included ‘lessons on agricultural products of the district’, and Standard IV (Grade 4) studied ‘agricultural topics’ from Tanner’s First Principles of Agriculture. In addition to Tanner’s First Principles of Agriculture, Standards V and VI (Grades 5 and 6) used Bailey’s Natural History Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954) was a horticulturist, naturalist and advocate of nature study.

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” … Stuffed birds do not sing and empty eggs do not hatch. Then let us go to the fields and watch the birds. Sit down on the soft grass and try to make out what the robin is doing on yonder fence or why the wren is bursting with song in the thicket. An opera-glass or spy-glass will bring them close to you. Try to find out not only what the colors and shapes and sizes are, but what their habits are … ” from the Birds and I , Liberty Hyde Bailey. http://libertyhydebaileyblog.blogspot.ca/

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IMG342_crop

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Copyright 2016  Jane Tims

 

Schools of New Brunswick in 1888

with 7 comments

I love beginning a new project … love learning, love doing the research, love the dusty old books holding the information.

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A project about the old schools of New Brunswick won’t be totally new to me. I grew up hearing the stories my Mother told about teaching in one-room schools. In University, I wrote a research paper about school in the 1800s and how schools were situated in the community and in the landscape. And I am always interested in older buildings and how they survive in the built landscape.

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location of schools near Salt Springs, Kings County, New Brunswick in 1886

location of some schools in Upham Parish, Kings County in 1862, showing the effects of linear settlement on school location (map shown is from H.F. Walling, Topographical Map of the Counties of St. John and Kings New Brunswick, 1862)

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My first step to research this topic was to take a drive in the countryside, to find some old schools (see post for April 26, 2016). My next step is to do some more reading about the school system in the nineteenth century.

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I began with an old book, not dusty at all, but available on-line at Google Books (https://books.google.ca/books):  Annual Report of the Schools of New Brunswick 1888 (Fredericton, 1889) by the Chief Superintendent of Education.

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In 1888 there were 1,532 schools in New Brunswick. Some of these would have been larger schools, but the majority were one room schools in rural settings. There were 1,587 teachers and 59,636 pupils. Only 50% of these students were ‘daily present’ during the time the school was in session –  “…falls far short of what it ought to be …” reports the Superintendent! He suggested that teachers could help a lot if they would “… carefully inquire into the cause of every absence …”

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P494-23 Carters Point School Kingston Penninsula

children and teacher at Carter’s Point School on the Kingston Peninsula (Source: Provincial Archives of New Brunswick)

 

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The report contains over 1000 pages and lists the classes given most often:

Reading, Spelling, Recitations

Oral Lessons on Morals

Physical Exercise

Health, including Temperance

Composition

Print Script

Writing

Number Standards/ Arithmetic

Geography

Useful Knowledge (for example Plant Life)

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I love the description of the Health instruction:

pure air, sunlight, good water,
wholesome food, proper clothing, cleanly and temperate habits, avoidance of draughts,
and the sudden checking of perspiration, dry feet, etc.

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I think I will go check my perspiration and feet …

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cumberland bay school 4

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Copyright 2016  Jane Tims

 

 

 

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