young men and women.
Not unfrequently married men, and occasionally married women, attended school in the winter.
Among the younger pupils, there were usually a dozen who could not read, and half as many who did not know the alphabet.
The teacher was, perhaps, one of the farmer's sons of the district, who knew a little more than his elder pupils, and only a little; or he was a student who was working his way through college.
His wages were those of a farm-laborer, ten or twelve dollars a month and his board.
He boarded ‘round
,’ i. e. he lived a few days at each of the houses of the district, stopping longest at the most agreeable place.
The grand qualification of a teacher was the ability ‘to do’ any sum in the arithmetic.
To know arithmetic was to be a learned man. Generally, the teacher was very-young, sometimes not more than sixteen years old; but, if he possessed the due expertness at figures, if he could read the Bible
without stumbling over the long words, and without mispronouncing more than two thirds of the proper names, if he could write well enough to set a decent copy, if he could mend a pen, if he had vigor enough of character to assert his authority, and strength enough of arm to maintain it, he would do. The school began at nine in the morning, and the arrival of that hour was announced by the teacher's rapping upon the window frame with a ruler.
The boys, and the girls too, came tumbling in, rosy and glowing, from their snowballing and sledding.
The first thing done in school was reading.
The ‘first class,’ consisting of that third of the pupils who could read best, stood on the floor and read round once, each individual reading about half a page of the English Reader
Then the second class.
Then the third.
Last of all, the youngest children said their letters.
By that time, a third of the morning was over; and then the reading began again; for public opinion demanded of the teacher that he should hear every pupil read four times a day, twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.
Those who were not in the class reading, were employed, or were supposed to be employed, in ciphering or writing.
When they wanted to write, they went to the teacher with their writing-book and pen, and he set a copy,— ‘Procrastination is the thief of time,’ ‘Contentment is a virtue,’ or some other wise saw,—and mended the pen. When they were puzzled with a ‘sun,’ they went to the teacher to have it elucidated.