Slideshow: Pioneer classroom in the Orcas Island Historical Museum, WA state.
Classroom Etiquette From Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms, Thomas E. Hill, 1891, pages 173-174.
"The following are the requisites for successful management in the schoolroom:
The teacher must be a good judge of human nature. If so, his knowledge will teach him that no two children are born with precisely the same organization. This difference in mentality will make one child a natural linguist, another will naturally excel in mathematics, another will exhibit a fondness for drawing, and another for philosophy. Understanding and observing this, he will, without anger or impatience, assist the backward student, and will direct the more forward, ever addressing each child in the most respectful manner.
As few rules as possible should be made, and the object and necessity for the rule should be fully explained to the school by the teacher. When a rule has been made obedience to it should be enforced. Firmness, united with gentleness, is one of the most important qualifications which a teacher can possess.
Everything should be in order and the exercises of the day should be carried forward according to an arranged programme. The rooms should be swept, the fires built and the first and second bells rung with exact punctuality. In the same manner each recitation should come at an appointed time throughout the school hours. The programme of exercises should be so varied as to give each pupil a variety of bodily and mental exercise. Thus, music, recreation, study, recitation, declamation, etc., should be so varied as to develop all the child’s powers. Not only should boys and girls store their minds with knowledge, but they should be trained in the best methods of writing and speaking, whereby they may be able to impart the knowledge which they possess.
The teacher should require the strictest order and neatness upon the part of all the students. Clean hands, clean face and neatly combed hair should characterize every pupil, while a mat in the doorway should remind every boy and girl of the necessity of entering the schoolroom with clean hands and shoes. Habits of neatness and order thus formed will go with the pupils through life.
At least a portion of each day should be set apart by the teacher in which to impart to the pupils a knowledge of etiquette. Students should be trained to enter the room quietly, to always close without noise the door through which they pass, to make introductions gracefully, to bow with ease and dignity, to shake hands properly, to address others courteously, to make a polite reply when spoken to, to sit and stand gracefully, to do the right thing in the right place, and thus, upon all occasions, to appear to advantage.
All the furnishings of the schoolroom should be such as to inspire the holiest, loftiest, and noblest ambition in the child. A schoolroom should be handsomely decorated. The aquarium, the trailing vine, the blossom and the specimens of natural history should adorn the teacher’s desk and the windows, while handsome pictures should embellish the walls. In short, the pupils should be surrounded with such an array of beauty as will constantly inspire them to higher and nobler achievements.
Boys and girls should be taught that which they will use when they become men and women. In the first place they will talk more than they will do anything else. By every means possible they should be trained to be correct, easy, fluent and pleasant speakers; and next to this they should be trained to be ready writers. To be this, they should be schooled in penmanship, punctuation, capitilization, composition and the writing of every description of forms, from the note of invitation to an agreement, from the epistle to a friend to the promissary note, from the letter of introduction to the report of a meeting.
Above all, the teacher should be thoroughly imbued with the importance of inculcating in the mind of the student a knowledge of general principles. Thus, in the study of geography, the pupil should be taught that the earth is spherical in form; that its outer surface is divided into land and water; that the land is divided into certain grand sections, peopled with different races of human beings who exhibit special characteristics. That civilization is the result of certain causes, and progress in the human race arises from the inevitable law of nature that everything goes from the lower steadily toward the higher. A study of the causes which make difference in climate, difference in animals, difference in intellectual and moral developments among the races - a general study of causes thus will make such an impression upon the child’s mind as will never be effaced; while the simple study of facts such as load the mind with names of bays, islands, rivers, etc., is the crowding of the memory with that which is likely in time to be nearly all forgotten.
Thus, in the study of history, dates will be forgotten, while the outlines of the rise and fall of kingdoms, and the causes which produced the same, if rightly impressed by the teacher, will be ever stored in the mind of the pupil.
So should the teacher instruct the student in every branch of study, remembering that facts are liable to be forgotten, but fundamental principles and causes, well understood, will be forever remembered."
When I wrote Delivery Delayed, book IV in the Tales of Chetzemoka, I added a number of 19th-century schoolbooks to our private archive. Delivery Delayed focuses on Lizzie Bray, a schoolteacher in Chetzemoka, and these books which would have been used in her classroom provided invaluable insights into the daily life of students and teachers alike.