The Empty Schoolhouse: Memories of One-Room Texas Schools

The Empty Schoolhouse: Memories of One-Room Texas Schools

The Empty Schoolhouse: Memories of One-Room Texas Schools

The Empty Schoolhouse: Memories of One-Room Texas Schools

Synopsis

One- and two-room schools represent a time in Texas history when a child's school term was based on the coal crop season and family duties received priority. They were the enter of educational, social, political, and religious activity, where children were taught reading and math, couples were united in marriage, funerals were preached, and Friday night socials were held. Luther B. Clegg's The Empty Schoolhouse: Memories of One-Room Texas Schools provides a direct link to the past through interviews with students who attended these schools and teachers who taught there. From a region between Fort Worth and Odessa and the Hill Country and Amarillo, come stories describing Friday afternoon literary societies, dead snakes in desk drawers, pranks, fires, travel to and from school, and discipline. Drawing on historical and sociological data related to the locales and time period, Clegg presents lively firsthand accounts of rural life, preserving the uniqueness of the olden days. Texas history enthusiasts and those interested in educational history will enjoy the tales and reminiscences of this slice of Americana.

Excerpt

Throughout its history, the species Homo sapiens has desired to pass to its offspring the knowledge it deemed important. In primitive eras children were taught skills that promoted survival. As societies became more sophisticated, the body of knowledge that was passed to succeeding generations became more complex. It was no longer sufficient to teach boys the means of providing food and shelter and girls the ways of homemaking and child rearing. They also needed the ability to store and access information, that is, to read and to write. It became important to preserve the collective knowledge of the group: the history, values, and function of the society as well as mathematical and scientific discoveries. Because the task was too enormous for each family, groups pooled resources. Hence, the birth of the school.

As one looks at the history of education in the United States, it is evident that schools reflect, and have always reflected, the society and times in which they operate. For example, the religious fervor of the Puritans resulted in reading being taught for the purpose of understanding the Bible. Formal education was reserved for those preparing for the ministry. As the colonies grew, an increasingly diverse population saw need for broader opportunities. Four types of schools evolved: the dame school, the town school, the Latin gram-

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