Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Schools through the Ages

As we begin another school year, Zoe Dukoff-Gordon compares school today with school a hundred years ago.

Classroom in the early 1900s
(image source: whitchurchandllandaff.co.uk)

For a recent English task we had to write to a friend offering advice for when they move to our current school. It could be completely fictional so I decided to move back into the time of World War One and offer advice to a friend who lived in the city and had to stay with us during the war. I had to do a lot of research into the typical school life of that era and this helped me realise how surprisingly little the outline of school life has changed in 100 years.
Firstly, let me give you some differences I discovered:

* The use of a blackboard (not white board)
* Travelling to school usually by bicycle (no public transport)
* One classroom, with over 40 children
* Punishments that usually involved ridiculing or hurting the child (hit with a ruler, writing lines, standing on one leg in front of the class)
* Games at break that include hopscotch
* After school, children would often work ("half-timers") as a servant or in a type of factory
* Girls were in separate classes to boys

A child would get up, go to school, have lessons including English, Maths and PE and then go home and have homework to do. The outline of the school day, in 1912, was actually very much the same. In Britain the majority of school pupils still wear a uniform, for example. Yet the details in a school life are very different. The lessons taught have changed enormously; in 1912, we never learnt foreign languages, philosophy, and triple science. Is this change for the better?  

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