Rules to Teach By

We often refer to the past as a simpler time, when no one had any worries and the rules weren’t as strict. After working for the summer at the historical society I have come to realise how that phrase could be quite misleading to those who don’t know their history. Even though there were aspects of life that were easier a couple hundred years ago, most things were watched much more carefully. In particular the professional rules one had to live by in order to keep their post.

There is one job whose rules I have come to know quite well this summer for they are displayed in one of our exhibits here at the museum. In our schoolhouse display there sits a board outlining the very specific rules a teacher must follow in order to remain in good standing with their superiors. Looking back now, in the 2018 some of these rules seem hard to believe that they could have ever been enforced. Although many things have changed since 1872 when these rules were written. At that time they most likely would have been completely normal rules to follow.

On the plaque there are nine rules each teacher must follow.

  1. Teacher each day will fill lamps, and clean chimneys.
  2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.
  3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupil.
  4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
  5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
  6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
  7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
  8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
  9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.

The rules teachers have to abide to have taken a dramatic turn in the past two hundred years. Although most things are not what they used to be in those times. Almost every aspect of our lives is different from those times, but I definitely think after reading these rules we have to reconsider referring to past as “the simpler times”.

Abbie, summer student

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