The one-room schoolhouse of the early 1900s was often filled with benches or desks, but one stood out from the rest: the teacher’s desk. Many times, there were too many students and children had to resort to sharing those desks, as well as books and other school items. However, the teacher’s desk was for one person: the teacher.
Early one-room school teachers faced very strict rules and were not allowed many freedoms outside of the classroom. For example, male teachers could have one evening off for courting purposes; but only if they attended church regularly. Female teachers were only allowed to court or marry if they quit their job. A teacher was also expected to work ten hours in the classroom, and was permitted to spend the rest of their time reading good books, like the Bible.
While teachers of that time didn’t seem to have much control over their personal time, they usually had complete control in the classroom. Their desk was the perfect platform for the teacher to remind an unruly class who was in charge. Teachers kept important items on their desks, including books for teaching, a bell to gain students’ attention, and a ruler (sometimes used for discipline). The teacher’s desk could be considered a focal point in the one-room schoolhouse.
To see the Osceola County Historical Society’s authentic teacher’s desk, among other original schoolroom items, visit the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek. The replica one-room schoolhouse, furnished with historical items, is now complete and open to the public for viewing!
Source: “Early Schools” by Bobbie Kalman
Photo Courtesy: Kayla Smith