Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Six Days to Launch!

Six more days!

I'm doing a countdown here until

Lessons Learned: The Story of Pilot Mountain School

launches into the world and today I'm at SIX! That neat, rounded figure. Six...

The number six appears early in the book, at the beginning of chapter four. I list the teachers who are waiting for the children on that 1942 first, first day of school.

Then I continue:

No lunchroom ladies. Not even a school custodian, although tall, lanky Bob Baker arrived in winter when the furnace needed stoking. Basically, what they had was four teachers, six grades, and a war.

Those six grades did not include kindergarten. That wouldn't come along for almost thirty more years. But you can do the math, four teachers, six grades. Something had to give to jam six grades into four classes. 

This was accomplished through combinations, the trademark of small rural schools. First graders usually went into one class only, if at all possible, to allow each child the benefit of an undivided teacher. From then on, however, the classes consisted of two grades together. The teacher assigned one group individual work while she went to the other grade to teach. Then while they did their work, she returned to the first group for the day's lessons.

Some children listened to both sides and learned two years at once and were able to skip a grade.

Some children listened to the lower grade for reinforcement, hearing the same lessons two years in a row.

Some children were lost and confused with a parallel instruction going on while they were trying to work on a completely different topic. They couldn't ask for help from the teacher because she was too busy with the other grade. Instead they had peer helpers that sat beside them. Sounds like a modern teaching technique, but used for generations.

Six grades, four teachers. Oh, and a war. That's chapter four. Can't wait for you to read it.

If you are anywhere near the schoolhouse on highway 64 west of Morganton, NC on Tuesday, September 25, please come to the launch. Ten o'clock in the morning. Hope to see you six more days!

Catch of the day,


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