Donnelsville students in Patrice Setterfield’s third-grade class took a step back in time Monday to an era when students “made manners” to teachers at the beginning of each school day, public recitation was a key to learning, and the Bible was an integral part of school curriculum.
The students were spending a learning day at the “Advance One Room School No. 7”, located on New Carlisle Pike just outside of New Carlisle.
Operated by the Clark County Retired Teachers’ Association (CCRTA), the restored Advance School No. 7 is a priceless local resource for educators teaching Ohio History to students. Groups using the living history museum typically include classes from around the region like the Donnelsville class. Homeschool groups also use the museum.
Retired Music teacher, Barbara Crite-Blackburn, played the one-room schoolhouse’s teacher, “Miss Blackburn,” for the day. She explained how students learn what a school day was like for their great, great, great grandparents in 1878.
“Students wear clothing that is similar to what students wore back then. We talk about what they think school was like. We discuss how the students behaved and how they made manners to teacher by bowing or curtseying and saying ‘Good Morning’ to the teacher upon entering the building. We also discuss how things we take for granted today, like pencils and paper, were hard to come by and how students would use small chalkboards called ‘slates’ to do their work on.”
When the Donnelsville students started their historic school day, they went through a curriculum similar to that taught in 1878. “Miss Blackburn” read a Bible passage to begin the day. Then the children took out their “McGuffey Readers” and took turns going to the front of the room and reading aloud to their classmates. Vocabulary words from the readings included “integrity” and other moral-based words.
The students also took their lunches to school in era-appropriate lunch pails, neckerchiefs, or baskets. They then received 19th century-style toys that they had to figure out how to play with during recess.
Setterfield says students she’s taken to the Advance School in past have come away with a new appreciation for how hard their grandparents worked when going to school, how difficult it was for them to get the resources they needed for their education, and how important good manners were.
Blackburn says the goal of the CCRTA and the Advance School is to give students a real taste of history and how children used to live. The experience is one many of the students will not soon forget, especially after they lined up for an outhouse break before recess.