Schools In The 1800s – Insight Into the Life of a Pioneer School Teacher

By | December 5, 2018

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One Room Schoolhouse, A one room school house with the children of all ages, Grand Junction, Michigan, late 1880s or early 1890s. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Historically, American schoolhouses were originally established by churches with the expressed intent of teaching students to read, not so they could go on to enjoy successful and fulfilling careers, but so they could read the Bible. This being the case, many churches were used as schoolhouses, as there was just no funding for a stand-alone schoolhouse. This began changing in the early 1800s. Change began when parents formed what was called, “School Societies.” It wasn’t long before the government got involved and took over the institution and subsequently created school districts.  

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Pioneer School Teacher and her Class (

Children of all ages were grouped together in one room schoolhouses. There was one teacher for the entire group and he/she was charged with tending to and teaching each student on their own level. Teachers had tremendous responsibilities and received very little pay.

During the 1800s, attending school was not mandatory, nor was it free.

The 1800s was a time in history when many Americans were struggling just to provide for the basic needs of the family. Tax money didn’t fund schools, so parents were faced with the reality that if they wanted their children to learn how to read, they needed to pay for it. This was a very difficult decision for many families. Of course, parents wanted their children to learn to how to read so they could read the Bible and be good Christians, however, it often meant that extreme sacrifices had to be made.

Early schools were broken up into two sessions; Summer and Winter.