School Days

Each year, the Elgin and Area Heritage Society invites a group of elementary school students to visit the Red Brick School.  The students experience a sample of the wondrous school days that unfolded in a time before most of them were even born.

They assemble and enter the classroom in the required orderly fashion, and under the watchful eye of a teacher of the era receive instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic (I cannot speak to the hickory stick!). There are no smartphones, computers, tablets or calculators.  And yes, they read to themselves without moving their lips, learn cursive writing, spelling and grammar as well as, believe it or not, multiplication tables.  The picture shows a class completely attentive to the teacher’s instruction.

Students attending the Red Brick School came from varied backgrounds: mercantile, business, medicine, farming and other professions; therefore, the attire of each student was generally varied. That said this young gentleman is dressed in a manner not uncommon for the day.

School was not all study and discipline. Games were played at recess and lunch, and students were expected to go outside and participate with others. No doubt a few skinned knees happened along the way, but all were active and happy.  The accompanying pictures show students playing tag and having a tug-of-war.

Much has changed in the world of education.  Through this undertaking, we, the Elgin and Area Heritage Society, are giving young learners of today a glimpse into the learning environment that came before.

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