An Illustrated history & description Of Schools in the 18th & 19th Centurys.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

The District Schools                      129
Lincoln has said of the schoolmasters that " No qualification was ever required beyond ' readin', writing and cypherin' to the Rule of Three/ If a straggler supposed to understand Latin happened to sojourn in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizard."
Teaching offered no rewards sufficient to attract men of education or capacity, and it sometimes seemed as if a master's chief reason for taking up teaching was inability to earn anything in any other way. Lincoln acquired much of his early education at home. In the evening he would pile sticks of dry wood into the brick fireplace. These would blaze up brightly and shed a strong light over the room, and the boy would lie down flat on the floor before the hearth with his book in front of him. He used to write his arithmetic sums on a large wooden shovel with a piece of charcoal. After covering it all over with examples, he would take his jack-knife and whittle and scrape the surface clean, ready for more ciphering. Paper was expensive, and he could not even afford a slate. Sometimes when the shovel was not at hand, he did his figuring on the logs of the house walls and on the doorposts, and other woodwork that afforded a surface he could mark on with his charcoal.
An interesting sidelight on education in the dis­trict schools is furnished by an official report of 1838 concerning the three thousand school buildings of Massachusetts. Their estimated value was little above a half million dollars. To-day the state has single school structures which have cost more than
Previous Contents Next