My mom and my uncle attended three different one room schools while growing up (two in Montana and one in Minnesota. As a child (and even as an adult) I read and re-read the “Little House on the Prairie” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As I grew older, I became enamored with one room school houses. That’s one of the treats of getting off of the freeway and onto the roads less traveled … you never know when you going to round a curve in the road or crest a hill and be treated to a fast fading remnant of the past … a lonely one room schoolhouse sitting alone and slowly succumbing to the effects of weather and time.
These treasures of the past are fading into the landscape, so I love it when I find one as it reminds me of a time when our lives were less controlled by cell phones, iPads, crazy work schedules and other life “obligations”. Though life was harder back then, I think it was also enjoyed a lot more.
Some one room schools, such as the Shetland School built in 1871, have been beautifully restored to their former glory.
Others, have been converted into homes.
Still others are succumbing to the tests of time, the elements and vandalism and are slowly disintegrating.
I have wandered back roads in at least 10 different states in search of one room schools. I have looked for ones only to find that they have been moved or are no longer standing. Once in awhile, I get lucky and a local will stop and reveal stories about family members that have gone to school there.
I encountered one such local while photographing what I thought was the Lyndall School. Turns out, that it was actually the teacherage (the teacher’s house) and was close to the original school. I suspect that the teacherage was the original school and then as more children moved to the area, a larger school was built and the original school was converted to the teacherage. Sometime in the 1930s, the school was burned the teacher accidentally filled the kerosene lanterns with gasoline. After the school burned, classes were once again held in the teacherage.
Today teachers are expected to not only teach their students, but also be parents and counselors (it’s amazing to me how many parents think it is the schools job to raise their children; wrong! It is your job to raise your children and the schools job to educate your children, not do both). I often wonder in amazement how the teachers in one room schools used to do it….granted their class size was smaller, but they were all teaching K-8 in one room.
Though many may think one room schools are just a reminder of simpler times and are a thing of the past, there are some that are still in use in rural communities today.
If you are interested in seeing our country, I encourage you to get off of the freeways and take the roads less traveled … you never know when you will round a bend and see a magnificent one room school house. And, even if there’s not a school house, there is always something to see if one just slows down and takes the time to look.
Until the next adventure…