For a hundred years, white frame or native stone one-room schoolhouses dotted the section corners across Kansas. They were called names like Prairie Flower, Buzzard Roost, and Good Intent. The children who attended ranged in age from five to 21 and endured dust storms, prairie fires, and cattle drives swirling past the school house in order to get an eighth grade education. They got to school on foot, on horseback, or in a wagon. When they arrived on their first day of school they may have only known how to speak a foreign language but they soon learned how to speak, read, spell, and write English.
The school teacher, sometimes slightly older than her pupils, was a renaissance individual. She had to be a nurse, janitor, musician, philosopher, peacemaker, wrangler, fire stoker, baseball player, professor, and poet for less than $50 a month. Equipped with little more than a blackboard and a few textbooks, teachers passed on to their pupils cultural values along with a sound knowledge of the three Rs.
By the turn of the century, the population began to shift to the cities and country schools began to lose students and tax support. School districts consolidated, pooling their resources to provide more teachers, broader curriculum, and opportunity for extracurricular activities. By 1966, the one-room country school had become a thing of the past.
Entry: Country Schools
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2003
Date Modified: July 2011
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.