Sunday, August 26, 2012

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop - Back to School

It's back to school week for millions of American children. "Back to school" is a right of passage that has been occurring for generations and generations. Here are a couple of images from my collection of antique shop finds that show students.

Do images of children attending class show more than changes in dress? Do they show changes in thinking about schooling? The first photo in this post shows a stern looking teacher. This is not the presence most teachers seek to portray today, but it was the accepted standard in the early twentieth century. [Buns are also out of fashion for most teachers these days, but those of us who do wear them now tend to wear them lower on the back of the head rather than on top like this woman!] I wonder what the children are doing in this photo. Most of the images burned in my brain of early 20th century classrooms include row after row of desks and unhappy children. Is my image here portraying a fun activity? Despite the frowns and blank stares, I like to think that maybe this was an interesting project. Perhaps getting away from one's desk to explore wasn't as unusual as I think it was.

In these images of school, I see our own kids linked to this past. I think that sharing such images with today's students can help them build an appreciation for history -- their own history -- and thus for their historical community. Education grows as we grow. Our ideas about teaching change. Images of education help me recognize something bigger than myself and I believe they can help students see themselves as part of something bigger too. Kids have been going to school and learning a broad range of subjects to help them function in society for hundreds of years. 

The images of school children in our archives should be cherished. To me, they symbolize the hopes and dreams of a young society, aiming to teach its children that knowledge can be a key to a happy, fulfilling life. 

My daughter heads to school this week without a big bow in her hair. I head to school next week. I'll be the new teacher librarian with the wild and wacky curls, perhaps held back neatly in a bun.

Curls on a humid day

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