In your one-room 19th-century schoolhouse, all the grades from one through nine or ten share the same teacher and the same room, so you have to learn to concentrate, because another class is usually up reciting their lessons to the teacher. Your teacher sets you a lesson to learn - so many pages of geography or history to memorize, so many sums to work out in arithmetic, so many words to learn to spell, a certain length of composition (writing). When your class is called, you go to the front, stand before the teacher, and answer the questions in turn. If you answer the most questions correctly, you're "head of the class." Reading, writing and arithmetic are the main subjects, but you aren't taught to "discover" or "question" unless your teacher is exceptionally good (or original). Instead, you learn by "rote," or by memorizing. You also take geography, history, grammar, agriculture, and other subjects. If you're thirteen and old enough to study for the "entrance" exam to high school, you might have to stay after school to study extra subjects like algebra, Latin and French.
The 19th-century schoolhouse looked very different from the one you probably go to. For one thing, the playground was just a field or clearing. For another, the schoolhouse only had one room that held about 30 students comfortably; the whole school was about the same size as one of today's classrooms. It was probably a wooden building, simply built, with a small gable. No running water meant that the toilets were outhouses behind the school. No electricity meant no refrigerator to put your milk in to keep cool in the summer, so like Anne Shirley and her friends, you had to put it in the brook to stay fresh.
This is a complete grade 7 social studies lesson plan that addresses the subject of school in the past and present.
In November 2007, Dylan interviewed his grandparents, Marie and Tom Cobb, about life when they were growing up in Prince Edward Island.
In November 2007, Breann and Michaela interviewed Kathleen Gillis Gillis from Indian River, Prince Edward Island about life on the Island when she was a young girl.