Life Under Compulsion: From Schoolhouse to School Bus

Why do people invariably enjoy visiting old one-room schoolhouses?  They are human places, on a human scale, for the education of little human beings.  It isn’t just that one knows, without having to think about it consciously, that the planks and joists where pegged together by the hands of the same people whose children would go to school there.  It’s that the whole idea of the school is founded upon their natural desires and intentions.  There is the boiler, to keep the class warm in winter.  There is the woodshed, for the boiler.  The men would stock that shed, and boys would haul the logs in when needed.  There is the schoolyard, cleared for play.  There are the windows, for natural light and for fresh air when the spring comes.  There is the American flag, and a portrait of Washington, Father of the Country.  There are the books, tailored for children, certainly, but also compact, without wasted space – for books were expensive.  The readers are filled with folk tales and poems and historical fiction and, for the older children, selections from Cicero, Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope.

The school looks in part like a home, or a small town hall, or a chapel.  Appropriately so, since it is a public extension of the home, in harmony with the virtues encouraged by the church.  As at home, as in church, children intermingle, the older ones seeing to the younger ones.  There is no unnatural separation by year of birth.  The teacher is hired by the people, for their purposes; he or she is not a member of a cabal intent upon subverting the purposes of their employers.  The school belongs to the people who live there.  It is their free and liberty-making creation.

via Life Under Compulsion: From Schoolhouse to School Bus | Front Porch Republic.


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