The One-Room School House

Rob Paterson’s post on School and Learning Engagement really struck a chord with me. I spent Grade One in a one-room schoolhouse. It was a remarkable experience. My age cohort was three students, and we shared a row with the Grade 2 pupils. We were given assignments, some individual and some group activities. We had to work on our own as the teacher had to help all seven grades. The entire school worked on the Christmas play and other activities. We all played in the same school yard. I don’t remember any bullying, and I was one the youngest students.

School in Albert Canyon BC circa 1962

Rob thinks that the one room school house was an emergent design, developed over time, to meet the educational needs of the community. In this way it was a “natural organisation”, sized to fit the needs of the community, without overpowering it. Larger schools are based on an industrial model, designed for administrative efficiency and not human learning needs.

Given the easy access to web-based learning resources, one room schools would be easier to build and maintain today than they were many years ago. Having a small school within walking distance would involve more parents, and keep a close eye on developing children. The whole idea of age cohorts is a bit mechanistic anyway. Few of my current friends and colleagues were born in the same year as me. Why should my children be forced to spend their days with 30 other children of the same age? I think that a modern variant of the one room school is an idea ready to pilot in the Maritimes.

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