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Country Schools — Day One

June 12th, 2017 · No Comments · 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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