Posted by: patwogan | October 4, 2008

More School Memories

Peebler School had a large room on the main floor which served as the classroom for all eight grades.  I don’t remember a time when there was a student in each grade.  It is hard to get a perspective from my memory on the size of the room, but I would imagine it was about thirty feet square.  There was an entry hall and a cloak room off one corner of the room.  The teacher’s desk was on the stage in the front of the room.  The stage had a curtain at the back and also a roll down curtain at the front.  This stage was used for school programs.  There was a library which was a separate room off the side of the classroom.  This library had many books, as I remember, but most of them were quite old. 

 I loved to read and spent a lot of time reading books from the library when I had finished my class work. (Does that sound familiar to anyone reading this?)  I especially remember reading the books by Horatio Alger.  Horatio Alger’s heroes (never heroines) were always born into poverty.  By hard work, perserverance, honesty, and a wealthy benefactor, they became successful and rich.  The main factor was the wealthy benefactor who always noticed the hero and managed to give him a “leg-up” to a position of influence.  It was as much a fairy tale as any by Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm.  At the time, though, I felt these stories could happen and they gave me hope. 

There were also many encyclopedias, atlases, and dictionaries in the reference section of the library.  These were probably out-dated and becoming more and more so as we were by now embroiled in World War II and the world was changing daily.  Especially out-dated at the time were the maps in the classroom.  Talk about change.  After the rise of Hitler, the map of Europe became quite obsolete.  I still remember though that Germany was pink. 

The desks were in rows and fastened to the floor so there was no ability to move them.  They were different sizes with the smaller ones at the front and the bigger ones in the back.  The teacher taught in blocks like math, reading, geography, spelling, writing, English, history, both American and Kansas, health, science, and social studies.  Each discipline had to be taught to each grade.  I remember social studies was taught to two grades at a time.  For example, one year seventh grade curriculum and the next year eighth grade curriculum.  This seemed to be the only shared subject area, though.  The student was able to hear the lessons of the other classes as well as his/her own.  That really was an advantage especially for the younger students.

On Friday afternoons, we would have math and spelling bees.  This included the whole school…all ten or twelve of us.  The words and problems were adjusted to the student participating.  There would also be times when we would have poetry readings and memorized “pieces” that we performed.  This was a good exercise for students who were a little shy as they would be performing before their friends.  Sometimes we would even have plays involving several students.  Friday afternoon was always fun for those of us who enjoyed this type of activity and I suppose torture for those who did not.

Somehow we learned everything necessary from the opening day of school which was always the first Tuesday after Labor Day until the last day of school which was usually the third week of April.  Country schools were eight-month schools.  I suppose this was because of the need of farmers to have their older children home for farm work.  The town schools went nine months and this was really a bone of contention for my cousins who went to school in town.  They didn’t seem to think we learned as much or had to work as hard as they did. 

The last day of school was a really big deal and I will write about that in a future post.  For now, I would like to again say that I think I received an excellent start at Peebler mainly because of the teachers I had.  I am sure they are all gone by now, but Miss Shobe, Mrs. Carpenter, and Mrs. Gay are surely receiving their rewards in Heaven.

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