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Country School Houses

June 14th, 2017 · Children, Country Schools, Education, Museums, Shaker, Site Seeing, Teaching & Learning, Volunteer

What a day!

On this last day of the Country School Association of America         conference, we spent from 8 to 6:30 on a bus driving about the local area of New Hampshire visiting no less than nine – yes – NINE – one room country schools!

Just amazing.  This is my first time at this conference, where I presented my paper on 19th century children, and honestly I was a little worried that I’d be spending the three days listening to workshops on how to renovate the things.  I was completely wrong!

What a great group of folks – academic folks who’ve published books, folks who curate, volunteer at, run, organize, own, and otherwise take care of country one room schools, a park ranger, folks who know all there is to know about desks, slates, and African American schools – and so much more!  It’s a great mix of scholars!

Here’s just a few pictures of the schools we visited today.  I’ll post more in the near future (now I need some rest)!

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Watercolors, New Hampshire, Delaware, and the Beechers

June 13th, 2017 · Children, Country Schools, eating, Education, Food, Important People, Museums, Play, Teaching & Learning

What do these items have in common?

Another great day at the Country School Association of America‘s annual conference!

My pictures aren’t so great today as I choose to sit a little further to the side today.  I discovered a place in the room with a bit better light overhead and a little less air conditioner breeze and noise!

The keynote speaker today was Sue Anne Bottomley, an artist who has visited all 234 cities and towns in New Hampshire and painted something lovely from each place.  As many of her drawings included country schools, and her talk was a lovely history of sorts of the state, it was quite suited to the conference.  Check out her website and the sweet book she has published with those paintings.

The next session I attended was given by Dr. Janell Drone – a really amazing woman.  She experienced segregation and desegregation as a growing child and young woman and brings the power of that experience in her life to her professional life and scholarship.  She spoke on the Invisible Assets behind the rise of Delaware African- American One-Room Schools and in particular the laws and Pierre S DuPont.  If you don’t know, as I didn’t, he had over 80 schools built in Delaware in the early 1900s specifically to provide education to African American children – really fascinating.

Food at this conference has been phenomenal – a bit like a cruise!  And, of course, I’ve eaten overly well!  Besides amazing meals with great fresh veggies and fruit, we have been offered snacks!



After a great lunch, I sat to listen to Dr. Allison Speicher talk on New England Teachers, Western Schools: Catharine Beecher’s Moral Crusade.   In the mid 1800s, Beecher managed to get a program started, that lasted for about ten years, of shipping trained teachers to the expanding West.  The National Board of Popular Education sent upwards of 600 women to schools out West.  Quite an amazing story.  Check out one of her courses – I’d love to take a class with her!  I’m definitely going to look for a copy of her book.

I really had to take a break for a while and have a walk, so I did.  The oppressive heat wave is subsiding and so I went outdoors and walked about campus for a bit getting some air.

I timed my returning to the indoors in order to play recess games of the 1800s:  “Nooning in the 1800s”!  Great fun presented by five women who are Schoolmarms from a local Heritage Commission and Historic Country School.  We got to play with the games including Quoits, Finger Tops, Spindle Tops, Limber Jacks, Ball and Cup games, Graces, Hoop and Stick, and Jump Rope.  It was great to move around, play with toys and other adults, and really consider what skills were being learned through play – making me really wonder what these games brought to the children’s development that may not be happening today!

Oh, yes, another meal!

After dinner, the CSAA held their annual meeting – quite interesting.  If you know a country school, check this organization out – I was amazed at the awards and scholarships they give out through memberships and a silent auction at this conference.

For our evening entertainment, the same women who brought up the toys, told us ghost stories.  Quite fun, except the ones they told about Colby-Sawyer and, in particular, the dorm where most of us are staying!





Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post – the last of the conference — we’ll be on a bus all day visiting about eight local country/one-room school houses!

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Country Schools — Day One

June 12th, 2017 · Books, Children, Country Schools, Education, Important People, Museums, Shaker, Teaching & Learning

Well, maybe day two depending upon how you count!   But, the first whole day of presentations – and wow were they amazing!

Twelve presentations were offered throughout the day – one being mine.  You choose one of two in each time slot.

First was the keynote speaker, Steve Taylor, a farmer, journalist and longtime public official in New Hampshire.  He gave a very interesting talk on the hundreds of one-room schoolhouses in New Hampshire of a century ago. He attended a one room school house in Cornish, NH as a young child, and told the story of the teacher there who taught for 58 years!   He spoke of the importance of the Granges in the country school house time, and the history of these schools in his state,  up until modern day.  So interesting.  He gives other talks that I’d love to hear one day.

Dale and Jean Prouty were up next for me, as I learned more than I ever knew there was to learn about slates!  They spoke about the commecial venture that happened in the 19th century when school become mandated and schools abounded.  These schools needed slates (paper was too expensive).  They had bought along their personal collection of slates – really, really fascinating!   I think about all that slate that’s on my roof that didn’t go to schoolrooms!   (sorry that I can’t seem to find an online link to refer the reader to the presenters in more detail).

Learning the Recitation Way was led by Susan Webb who had us standing and reciting poems, learning our lessons in geography by “bounding” a state.   Can you say without looking it up what “bounds your state” on the east, west, north and south?  She made us “toe the line.”   She also gives talks on “Rosenwald Schools” (this sounds really fascinating.)

I attended a talk on Horace Mann next by Ralph Buglass.  A truly important fellow who left a long paper trail to help us understand the evolution of the education for all and its importance to the new democratic experiment, as well as teacher training.

And, then right before my session, I watched a film about how the Old Stone House Museum in northern Vermont that had 20 teams  of oxen move a two story Grammar School building from one location to another!  Just amazing.

My own session on “19th Century Childhood:  The Lives of Children Among the Shakers and the World’s People”(Works cited Enfield paper) went well.  Feedback was that it was good and folks learned information – I always like to know that.  I felt incredibly rushed, but I guess it didn’t show.    Sadly, the person scheduled opposite me was unable to attend at the last minute and so I had a fair majority of everyone at mine – made me even a bit more nervous, but actually as I got going, I enjoyed speaking to a large audience (even if I saw a person sleeping; but who can blame them after a day as busy as this!)

For about an hour we went via carpools to New London Historical Society down the road.  It’s clearly a wonderful small museum with several buildings.  But, the weather was 92 degrees at 4:30 in the afternoon, so I had a quick look around and drove myself back to campus to get out of the heat.

baby minder

Dinner, and then a New England premiere of “Country School” One Room, One Nation” sponsored by the Gillespie County Schools of Fredericksburg, TX.  This movie was sad and delightful all at the same time, about the height and the fall of country schools.  And, in its own way, a statement about how education cannot be standardized.

Are you tired yet from reading?   Honestly, I had not expected to completely enjoy a solid day of hearing about one room/country schools, but I have.  There seems to be about 50 or so conferees, many independent scholars who really know their stuff.  Just incredible!

One room school at the New London Historical Society

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Country School Association of America

June 11th, 2017 · Children, Education, Shaker, Teaching & Learning

Today I’ve arrived at Colby Sawyer College to attend for the next few days the Country School Association of American Annual Conference.

I’m honored to be speaking on “19th Century Childhood:  The Lives of Children Among the Shakers and the World’s People.”

The presentation is a slightly reworked version of the same topic that I presented in April at the Shaker Forum held at the Enfield Shaker Museum in Enfield, New Hampshire.

Although I’ve been in the field of education in all sorts of ways since the late 70s, both of these presentations are what, I hope, will be the beginning of spending some of my retirement time looking more closely at the world of the children who lived with the Shakers.  It’s as multi-faceted and far reaching as the Shaker villages themselves, so I’m not sure as yet where I will be led.  As always, the journey is always worth the learning and work along the way!


For those attending the CSAA conference, you’ll find below a link to the Works cited for my original paper, for your continuing reading about Shakers, their history and lives, and the children they cared for.


Works cited Enfield paper



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Broadway to Chipping Camden – Hiking in England – Post 2

October 17th, 2016 · Hiking England: Cotswold & Cornwall, Itinerary, Musings, photo of the week, retirement, Site Seeing, Walking

Our first day on our recent trip with Road Scholar set the tone for the next two weeks, that’s for sure!

The days of hiking were a blast; but the first couple of days were a real challenge! A red eye from Boston to London, a drive out to Mickleton left little time in the afternoon before the first dinner together as a group. A small  walk around and nap was in order upon our arrival at the Three Ways Hotel (home of the Pudding Club – but that’s another post!).  The town is so picturesque!

A row of "cottages" in Mickleton

A row of “cottages” in Mickleton


The Three Ways Hotel...just lovely

The Three Ways Hotel…just lovely

First of all, apparently the heat of New England followed us across that big pond – London had record setting temperatures for our first two days. It hit 85 degrees, and although we were a couple of hours outside of London, we’re pretty certain it was at least the low 80s! We were so glad that we had taken our zipoff hiking pants!

The last hill and we'll be there!

The last hill and we’ll be there!

The Broadway Tower! The vista is gorgeous - worth the climb. You can go inside the tower.

The Broadway Tower! The vista is gorgeous – worth the climb. You can go inside the tower.

First rule of hiking in the Cotswolds...

First rule of hiking in the Cotswolds…

Another important part of the hiking - kissing gates. Since you are hiking straight through sheep/animal enclosures, these are important.

Another important part of the hiking – kissing gates. Since you are hiking straight through sheep/animal enclosures, these are important.

Some of the trail was straight across a crop field. Harvested since it was September - must be interesting to do it when it's growing!

Some of the trail was straight across a crop field. Harvested since it was September – must be interesting to do it when it’s growing!










Our first day was a hike from Broadway up to the Broadway Tower, then onto Chipping Camden (about 8 miles I think). Broadway Tower is the second highest location in the Cotwolds, so remember it’s in the low 80s, and we are jet lagged and hiking.  Get the jist yet?!!





One of the thatched roof homes along our hikes..

One of the thatched roof homes along our hikes..







Finally, we arrive in Chipping Camden! It's hot out!

Finally, we arrive in Chipping Camden! It’s hot out!







Part of the churchyard in Chipping Camden.

Part of the churchyard in Chipping Camden.


In the afternoon, we visited Hart Gold and Silversmiths, getting the opportunity to talk to the founder’s grandson, and see some of the work they are doing.

Look at this wall of tools! They have been in constant use since the 1930s!

Look at this wall of tools! They have been in constant use since the 1930s!









After lunch on our own, we took a group tour of Chipping Camden.  Hubby did the whole tour, but I was really hot and quite tired, and went back to the old MarketPlace to rest.  I’m not a pretty picture at the end of our first day of two weeks of hiking, but I’d had fun, learned, and met new folks.   Did I pick a wrong tour for us?  I did wonder, but was enjoying the challenge!

Exhausted, but not defeated!

Exhausted, but not defeated!



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