The District Schools 133
loose, props up at the blinds to keep them in place, stoves without doors, leaky roofs, patches of plastering missing and the rest of the plastering much marred and begrimed ; crevices in the "floor admitted any quantity of cold air,- while the woodwork of the desks and walls was cut and marked " with all sorts of images, some of which would make heathens blush/'
The required studies now were reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, geography, and grammar. Algebra and even Latin and French were attempted in an occasional school if the teacher was equal to them. Yet with all this broadening in studies and all the advances in school-books, and in spite of the correct English the books were supposed to impart, the scholars in their daily conversation continued to use the vernacular. Had they been reproved for so doing, they would have felt affronted.
One handicap to effective teaching was the fact that it might happen no two pupils were equally advanced in their studies — possibly did not have the same text-books. The books were often much worn and defaced, for they were family heirlooms and continued in use as long as they held together. One scholar would bring a volume used by some member of the family of the preceding generation ; another a book procured many years before for an elder brother or sister, and a third would appear with a copy just bought.
Some one has said, " It seems to me that we may learn everything when we know the letters of the alphabet;" and it is unquestionably true that the