by Dr. Kevin McNamee May 27, 2020
Afternoon instruction ended in the one-room schoolhouse in the farmlands of Missouri. The Great Depression was ending with the beginning of the second world war.
There were no fences surrounding the campus. No metal detectors at the door or police presence. The school’s security was the goodness of the local community who looked after their neighbors and the acreage surrounding the school provided the quiet to learn and safety any parent could want. It was God’s protective green-belt. It was also the children’s playground were their imagination can wander and build strong bones though play.
There was no need for long faculty meetings because there was only one teacher who taught the local farmer’s children. This lone, dedicated woman taught children from ages 6 to 16, to read, write, add and subtract, sing, dance and play. And she did it well. She bestowed life lessons within those four walls. Just one dedicated teacher in a one-room schoolhouse is all that was needed. There were no legions of teaching specialist, no union negotiations, no principals or school board with government regulations dictating how the teacher taught or the children to learn. It was the local parents who decided what they wanted for their child’s education, not the government.
The older students helped with the lessons of the younger ones. This reinforced what the older ones learned years before and the younger students received special attention to their lessons.
When the school day ends, the children begin to collect their belongings and start the walk home. At the schoolhouse door was a dog named Ghost who appeared daily to escort the two sisters safely home. In the morning, it was Ghost’s self appointed responsibility to walk the sisters to school and then return later that day to walk them home. No one had to tell Ghost when school began or ended. He just knew and appeared at the school door each day.
In the fields, farmers were at work tending to their crop. Shortly before classes ended, local farmers looked at their pocket watches and began moving towards the creek to carry the children across the water.
The creek was shallow enough for the men to safely step through but the legs of a little person would be quickly swept under and the child carried down stream. The local farmers coordinated between themselves as to which would provide safe passage across these treacherous waters.
The men would leave their plows and walk to the waters edge. As the children arrived, the men would carry each child safely across. When completed and all children were accounted for, the men would return to the farms to continue work. No need for a government bridge or a crossing guard. The community took care of their own. Cooperation between all to benefit each other. This is a farmers self-reliance without the government.