We’ve spent the week talking about one room country schools and we’re talking about long ago history.
I went to one. My cowboy husband went to one.
Our four children went to one.
One room country school houses aren’t all buried in the distant past.
In Nebraska, and other rural states, they still exist.
In fact the school my children attended had Connealys in it going back five generations, to the founding of the school.
My roots weren’t nearly so deep in my rural neighborhood, because only my father had gone to the school I attended. My grandfather and grandmother were from nearby, but back in their day there was a school almost every mile. And many of those schools were crowded.
The real change I saw when I was sending my kids to school was how the populations in rural America was diminishing. A farm was 80 acres, a man could support his family of eight kids on 80 acres. My mother in law, who’d been in the school district my children went to for sixty years, talked of all the homes that had been. There were little houses all over in the country back then. Now a farm needs to be two thousand or five thousand acres to support a family and one man can handle it himself with a huge tractor and stunningly expensive combines and trucks and bins to store his grain. And that farmer is likely to only have two kids. The tiny schools have closed slowly and steadily for fifty years.
We live a long way out. I know people who are farther from town. In fact in western Nebraska it isn’t unheard of to have a forty mile drive, one way, to the nearest town. My children drove 15 miles every day to high school. When the distances are great, it is wonderful to have a school nearby.
Our school, at its largest in my children’s years, had 13 students. The numbers fluxuated and at times we were down to five. My oldest daughter started school with one boy in her grade. By eigth grade she was alone in her class. There were eight grades, though some classes had no students. Our teacher had very few papers to correct but imagine the lesson plans. She had to do lesson plans for multiple grades, keep track of the progress through-out all levels of elementary school.
We had computers and the internet. In fact we had a computer for every kid in the class. I think Bill Gates donated them to us. There was a lot of paper work involved.
We took great field trips, get one mom to drive and off we’d go. We often had museums almost to ourselves.
We had up-to-date text books and access to videos and all the supplies any school has.
I’m defending the very unusual school my kids went to because I loved it. It was a mile down the road to school every morning, they often road their bikes. I had a huge amount of influence in that school, something that is very unusual in a school today where parents are invited in under very controlled circumstances only. The teacher became a good friend and we made a great team educating my children.
I know they missed out on some socializing, but I’ve noticed my girls have a great attitude with boys. They learned to think of boys as their friends, not as romances and not as icky. There just weren’t enough kids. They had to learn to get along and play with each other and I think that’s helped them get along in all aspects of their lives and have a healthy view of romantic relationships, too.
There was no shirking in class. If you’re alone in your grade, or maybe one of two or three, no one’s gonna slip through the cracks, no matter how hard they try.
The little blonde girl facing the governor in this picture is my daughter, now a mother of two, so it’s not a new picture. :)
The school my children went to is closed now, but there are still rural schools in Nebraska and other states. In remote areas it just makes sense to educate a child near home. I feel blessed that my children got this experience.I have four daughters…all college graduates. One of them had a friend who had been admitted to law school at an Ivy League college and my daughter went along to help her move in.
She went with her friend to a ‘welcome to college’ party and every student was wealthy. Every one of them was working on their second or third advanced degree. Not a one of them had ever had to make the rent or worry about the cost of his clothes or drive an old beater car.
And she looked around at that priviledged crowd and just thought, ‘these are the people who are going to be running our country someday and none of them have one bit of practical experience at taking care of themselves.’
I told her she should have just said out loud, “You know what? I went to a one room country school house. I know how to drive a tractor. I’ve been kicked by a cow. I got out of college and had to get a job and I’m PROUD of that. I’m proud of supporting myself and hustling to find an apartment I can afford and finding an roommate to make it affordable and just MANAGING MY OWN LIFE. And guess what? I think I”m better than all of you.”
My daughter of course, did NOT say any of that. Probably because she’d been taught better behavior than that at her One Room Country School.