Regina Scott here. It’s that time of year when people start thinking about their children returning to the halls of learning. You’ll see “back to school” sales cropping up, and stores carry backpacks and sweatshirts even though it’s still hot in many parts of the country. My mother taught kindergarten for many years, and I have nothing but respect for those who share their knowledge with future generations.
But, as I discovered when researching my August release, Frontier Engagement, teaching in 1866 on the frontier was a whole different game.
For one thing, a teacher taught all grades and all subjects, in one room, at the same time. For another, supplies like paper and pencils and resources like books were rare. School board expectations ranged from keeping the schoolroom neat and tidy to, in some cases, chopping wood for the fire, whittling pencils for the class, and shooting any varmints that happened to claw their way into the school.
But those weren’t the only expectations. A teacher’s behavior was examined in detail. Here are some of the “rules” some teachers had to live by:
- Never fraternize with the opposite sex.
- Teachers who married during their term were summarily dismissed.
- Dress in somber colors.
- Under no circumstances dye your hair. Avoid pool halls, barber shops, and ice cream parlors. (As my heroine, Rina Fosgrave said, “Who knew they were such dens of iniquity?”)
Yes, it’s tough to be a teacher, then and now. Here’s to all those who instruct our youth, whether homeschooling or braving the classroom. You are the true heroes!
Regina Scott owes much of what she knows about writing to the teachers who instructed her over the years. The author of more than two dozen historical romances, she’s currently working on a series set in Seattle’s early years: Frontier Bachelors, bold, rugged, and bound to be grooms. Sign up here for a free e-mail alert with exclusive bonus material when her next book comes out, or visit her online at her website or Facebook.