Back in the "Good Old Days," school was arranged in such a way as to leave children at home on the farm during times of peak need. Planting, harvest, cattle drives... those times required all workers. In some areas, school was conducted only five months out of the year! (If you have a kid in school, before they decide they wish they lived back then, Google the test for 8th grade graduation.)
Married women didn't teach--their duty was to their husbands. Unmarried girls could teach, but school marms made far less than school masters. Most often, the school marm lived with a local family. It spared the community of having to provide housing, and the host family kept close watch on the teacher's conduct.
Three different sets of "Rules for the Teacher" are widely disseminated. Sold in museums, posted in old one-room schoolhouses, and plastered all over the internet, they supposedly reveal the grim workload and restricted life expected of a teacher. I'm not posting them here because.... Snopes and a few other research sites state these "rules" cannot be authenticated!
The community often held church services in the schoolhouse... or held school in the church. The former was less happily received because desks made for uncomfortable and limited seating for worship. Using church benches pleased adults better and cut costs. Depending on the locale, the school might be made of bricks, field stone, wood, adobe, or even a tent.
This tent school was in Long Beach, California. The teacher, Miss Grace Bush, was only 16 years old. (Wow. Look how much she got done when she didn't have a TV, computer, or cell phone!)Notice how "green" this school was, and notice its version of air conditioning.
(BTW, I wonder if the four kids wearing hats are all from the same family.)
Older kids grew up with the task of minding younger ones. They'd tutor their "youngers" in the classroom, heat up their lunches on the potbelly stove, and get them to and from school. Three or even four siblings would ride a mule or horse to school. Parents created the "car pool" of that day, using a buckboard and filling it with the children who lived nearby. Later, when automobiles entered the picture, kids piled in. Walking five miles to school was commonplace. (Contrary to many tales, those miles were not uphill both directions.)
School marms or masters had to prepare lessons for each age group, teach them, and keep all of the other children busy and quiet. Parents provided the textbooks, but students often shared only one or two copies for an entire grade. Complicating that issue was the custom of separating the sexes.
What was the name of your favorite teacher, which grade did he/she teach, and why did he/she earn that special place in your heart?
Mine was Mrs. Pilcher, 1st grade. She taught me to read!