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Wisconsin Rural School Teachers 1880 - 1950 UW-Eau Claire Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration. Attributes of rural Wisconsin teachers The role, influence and impact of rural teachers Selection and supervision of rural Wisconsin teachers

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Wisconsin Rural School Teachers 1880 - 1950UW-Eau Claire Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration
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Attributes of rural Wisconsin teachers

The role, influence and impact of rural teachers

Selection and supervision of rural Wisconsin teachers

Typical day in the One Room School House

Highlight three Wisconsin rural teachers

Dr. Maureen D. Mack

Sunshine Mc Faul & Annelies Slack

rural teachers were born
Rural Teachers Were Born

Winter 1870: 2 small boys, 5 and 6 years old began school in a one-room schoolhouse in Nebraska. They had no preparation and did not know their ABC’s.

Two months later, the county superintendent heard them read every word from Hillard’s First Reader without a mistake.

In his report the county superintendent wrote:

They were bright little fellows, but it was not all in the children; there was power in the teacher…There is more than one kind of education necessary to make a good teacher. They are born, not altogether made.

from male schoolmasters to young women schoolteachers
From Male Schoolmasters to Young Women Schoolteachers

Late 1800’s - 1900’s enormous amount of time and energy devoted to teaching teachers to teach.

Once women became the dominate rural school teachers, county superintendents from Ohio to Nebraska and from Minnesota to Missouri, believed that country school teachers were inefficient, ineffectual, incompetent, and in desperate need of training.

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The Civil War …was the initial reason women replaced men as schoolteachers.

Two major reasons women continued on as teachers.

Men had choices between a variety of different occupations (women didn’t).

As more women entered into teaching, men proclaimed it “women’s work” and began to shun the profession.

Women were paid significantly less to do the same job.

When it became obvious that women teachers could always be hired for less money, educators asserted that women were better teachers than men, and women were better suited to teaching.

exception to the rule
Exception to the Rule

Wisconsin always preferred women schoolteachers.

Was it difficult for her to get through the snow in the winter? Then, the thing to do was to find one that is robust…Let her dress warmly, wear good stout boots, and she would do very well. She was not merely man’s equal as a teacher, said some, but actually his superior. What is the true object of teaching? Is it not inciting to right action by culture of right principles implanted in the mind and heart? Who is more fitted to do this great work aright than women?

(Jorgenson, Lloyd P. “The Founding of Public Education in Wisconsin.” Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 1956.)

In 1872 an educator wrote:

Woman is more sprightly and vivacious than men; has larger buoyancy and animal spirits, is generally less clumsy, is mentally more agile and versatile then the male, knows how to conquer by yielding. But women schoolteachers had their faults: their voice defective, their carriage faulty, and they lacked intellectual independence.

wisconsin rural teachers were women
Wisconsin Rural Teachers Were Women
  • Average young female schoolteacher in the Midwest (Wisconsin) was likely to be a farm girl who had grown up in a large family and had experience with milking cows and plowing fields. She was no more than 16. Later, the average age of the teachers increased, to around 20 years old.
  • She rose early, and took care of herself and others. Her knowledge of school was limited to what she learned in her school. She might have read through the sixth grade reader, knew how to diagram a sentence, how to spell, and learned the names and capitals of the states. She passed the third grade certificate which allowed her to teach for six months of a year without reexaminations.
competence of young women
Competence of Young Women

Were the female rural schoolteachers as incompetent and ignorant as the male educators made them out to be?

In 1889 a school inspector in Michigan wrote:

We hear much in these days about the poor quality of instruction in the rural district schools; in fact, there is a tendency to belittle the important work they do. I think that much of this opinion arises from lack of knowledge of the quality of work that these schools actual accomplishes…I am convinced from long observation of the work of both graded and rural schools that the average rural school teacher is as efficient as the average graded school teachers.

country school teachers mobility
Country School Teachers Mobility

Local policy did not favor retaining teachers for more than one or two years

  • Sometimes a teacher was not rehired simply because the farmers’ wives found her unsatisfactory.
  • One teacher in Iowa lost her job because, unknown to her, she had defeated a man who wanted to be Sunday school superintendent.
teachers salaries 1901
Teachers’ Salaries 1901

Source: Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1901 (Washington D.C. GPO 1902)

county teacher institutes
County Teacher Institutes
  • 1870’s: States agreed that teacher institutes should be held in each county.
  • County teacher institutes were rural institutions, and were as unpretentious as the farmers and more acceptable to them than the normal schools were.
  • County institutes were inexpensive--- the poorest farmer’s daughter could attend.
  • Financed by a one dollar tax on teaching certificates, a one dollar entrance fee, and sometimes by a modest state government stipend and were locally controlled.
  • This irritated the professional educators and state superintendents of public instruction.

Fuller, The Old Country School. 1982.

county teacher institutes12
County Teacher Institutes
  • The conductors were not professionals in education but were appointed for political reasons. They were often installed to give opportunities to individuals to earn or save money—they were not professional educators.
  • In the early 1880’s the superintendent of Iowa invited Herbert Quick, a country schoolteacher, and Carrie Lane, the superintendent of schools in Mason City, to teach at the upcoming county institute. Carrie Lane—later known as Carrie Chapman Catt, leader of the women’s suffrage movement—refused because, among other things, the superintendent had invited country schoolteachers to teach at the institute!

Fuller, The Old Country School. 1982.

county teacher institutes13
County Teacher Institutes
  • Teacher institutes stirred a flurry of excitement in the slow-paced Midwestern rural life in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
  • The institutes weren’t all work.
  • Teachers reflected the dominant rural opinion: drills in arithmetic, grammar, reading, spelling, and human anatomy.
  • Instruction time was devoted to:
    • Object lesson method
    • Teaching word and phonic methods
    • How to hold class recitations
    • Keeping school records
    • How to manage one-room schools

Fuller, The Old Country School. 1982.

county teacher institutes14
County Teacher Institutes
  • County institutes made an immense contribution to the education of Midwest country children. Rural people were given a chance to continue their educations beyond the country school with little expense. They sent out to the little white schoolhouses young people who were able, as a rule, to teach effectively and to lift some three generations of rural Americans to a standard of literacy unequaled by any other regions in the nation.

Fuller, The Old Country School. 1982.

teacher s life in a one room school
Teacher’s Life in a One Room School

10.11. A photographer saw rural poverty and blunted opportunities in this scene of farmers’ children at recess at a one-room school in what he called the “cut-over land” in Wisconsin, in the vicinity of Tipler in May 1937. (LC)

teacher s life in a one room school16
Teacher’s Life in a One Room School
  • April, 1872: Mary Bradford and her parents drove west from Kenosha Wisconsin in the family two-seated buggy on their way to a farm that sat near the boundary line between Kenosha and Racine counties. Mary was to board at that farm. Her parents visited with the farm family and bid a hasty farewell. She shared a bed with the farmer’s daughter and, consequently, her hair became infested with lice.
  • While boarding had its limitations, it worked to the advantage of the young female schoolteacher. She learned quickly what she must and must not do to fit into the family structure of the local community.
  • Mary signed a three month contract for $25 a month.
teacher s life in a one room school17
Teacher’s Life in a One Room School
  • Early on her first morning of school, Mary took the school bell, the key, a watch, and a tin lunch pail and walked the half mile from the farm to her schoolhouse. She arrived to discover a schoolhouse in shambles. There was a broken doorstep and ashes and papers were strewn about the mud-clod filled floor. Mary tidied up and rang the bell to bring her students to their seats. Among her 16 students of varying ages was a 19 year old girl who wanted to study algebra—a subject Mary had just begun to study before leaving her own high school studies.
  • Mary Bradford’s experiences were not unique. Thousands of young rural girls left their homes to teach in a country school. Loneliness, homesickness, uneasiness, worry over place to board, and even cleaning the schoolhouse the first day were the common experiences of teachers who taught in a Wisconsin rural school.
the students
The Students
  • Different in ages and backgrounds, religions–German, Scandinavian, Bohemian, Irish.
  • Irregular attendance due to weather, illness, work on the farm–the schoolhouse itself was a major incubator of disease and illness.
one room teaching methods
One Room Teaching Methods
  • Success due to her.
  • No visual aids and up until the 1890’s; had no clock on the wall.
  • Many rural teachers planted trees, shrubs, and flower gardens in the school yard.
  • Oftentimes the school had no well.
  • Yet in these unlikely places the illiteracy rate was reduced from 9.3% to 4.2% between 1870 and 1900 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Missouri. No other area of the nation had done as well, even given the massive influx of immigrants.
one room teaching methods20
One Room Teaching Methods
  • Cleanliness was stressed in the schools.
  • Protestant values.
  • English was the forced language.
  • She met with others doing the same job in various corners of their counties The desire to train the faculties of the mind was the theory behind recitations and drills.
girls as punishment
Girls As Punishment

Forced to sit with the girls for punishment, one student remembered sitting behind the girl he most admired, whose auburn curls “trailed over the McGuffey page.”

One-room schoolhouse, Racine, Wisconsin. (Whi [X3] 24590, SHSW)

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Slacks, John. The Rural Teacher’s Work. Chapter XII: The program of recitations.Boston: Ginn and Company. 1938
discipline and dedication
Discipline and Dedication

Driving the teacher out was a popular pastime of the older boys in the schools. In 1882 a schoolmaster in a country school in Ohio stabbed to death two of his students who attacked him after he insisted that they study their grammar lessons.

Country school teachers were given the following advice:

  • Grant no request during recitation
  • Do not dismiss a class until you have assigned the next lesson
  • Always treat your pupils politely and with respect; then you can expect the same treatment from them
  • Govern your school with kindness but firmness
  • Never tell a pupil he shall do anything that you are not sure you can make him do if he refuses, and be sure to see that he does it
  • It is not necessary to assign homework to children below the fifth grade & long homework assignments should be avoided
  • Do not hit the children over the head with a ruler or a book
influence beyond the border
Influence Beyond the Border

Agnes Windt Cadotte

Helen Parkhurst

Mary Davison Bradford

significant wisconsin rural school teachers
Mary Davison Bradford

Significant Wisconsin Rural School Teachers

Agnes Windt Cadotte

Helen Parkhurst

influence beyond the border29
Influence Beyond the Border

Agnes Windt Cadotte

Helen Parkhurst

Mary Davison Bradford

mary davidson bradford the pioneer teacher 1856 1943
Mary Davidson BradfordThe Pioneer Teacher1856-1943
  • 1921 Bradford retired after 43 years of WI Service
  • 1858 began rural schooling at 2
  • 1932 published memoir detailed from childhood to teacher to superintendent of schools
bradford accomplishments
Bradford Accomplishments
  • Established K’s in Kenosha schools
  • Began 1st WI program for the deaf
  • Began WI open air school for the frail
  • Inaugurated home economics, industrial arts & vocational training
bradford biography
Bradford Biography
  • Born on a farm in Paris, WI in 1856
  • Age 12, began HS in Kenosha
  • Summer school teacher while in HS
  • Fall 1874 took 3rd position and attended Oshkosh State Normal School
  • 1876 Kenosha High School position
  • 1878 married William Bradford
bradford biography33
Bradford Biography
  • 1880-81 son William born; husband died
  • 1882 returned to teaching; 10 years at Kenosha HS
  • Reputation as innovative teacher
  • University of Chicago
from rural schools to leadership
From Rural Schools to Leadership
  • 1894 supervising instructor at Stevens Point Normal at age 38
  • Summers attended Clark University and Emerson in MA
  • 1906 joined faculty at Stout Institute in Menomonie, WI
public school administrator
Public School Administrator
  • Appointed Asst. Superintendent Menomonie City Schools
  • Age 54, returned to Kenosha in 1910 to become Superintendent of Schools
  • 11 years tenure transformed schools into a modern public school system
  • New York Times “Wisconsin elects female”
bradford honors
Bradford Honors
  • 1911 President Wisconsin State Teachers’ Assoc.
  • 1917 UW-Madison honorary Master of Arts Degree-first award of its kind at the UW
retirement to author
Retirement to Author
  • 1921 Bradford retired at age 65 after career that spanned a half century
  • 1932 published “The Memoirs of Mary D. Bradford”—Time Magazine “a salty, widely read autobiography”.
  • 1937 published “Pioneers! O Pioneers”-- pioneer education on the WI frontier
  • 1938 Dean of Wisconsin Educators
influence beyond the border39
Influence Beyond the Border

Agnes Windt Cadotte

Helen Parkhurst

Mary Davison Bradford

helen parkhurst focus on the individual child 1886 1973
Helen ParkhurstFocus on the Individual Child1886-1973
  • One of the most important educators of the 20th Century
  • The Dalton Plan; to focus on each child as an individual
  • Founded Dalton School in NY
parkhurst accomplishments
Parkhurst Accomplishments
  • One-room school teacher
  • Colleague of Maria Montessori
  • Among 100 greatest educators in America
parkhurst biography
Parkhurst Biography
  • Born in Durand, WI in 1887
  • Grew up with 2 brothers near Chippewa River
  • Learned to read at age 3; invited by Pepin County Teachers’ Institute as “guest” for model classes
  • Taught at Black School (still stands-barely) where she formed early impressions on how to meet individual children’s needs
from rural schools to leadership43
From Rural Schools to Leadership
  • 1913-1918 Worked with Maria Montessori, famous Italian physician and educator in Europe
  • Focused on refining teaching young children via their senses and intellect
  • Dalton, MA– Created model secondary school
  • 1919-1942 Developed the Dalton School in New York where her approach quickly gained repute
  • Dalton method replicated across country and Europe

"Let us think of a school as a social laboratory where pupils themselves are the experimenters, not the victims of an intricate and crystallized system...Let us think of it as a place where community conditions prevail as they prevail in life itself."

Helen Parkhurst in Education on the Dalton Plan, 1922

from teacher to scholar
From Teacher to Scholar
  • 1926 Times Educational Supplement “The Laboratory Plan” published; first of many publications
  • Dalton schools founded in England
  • 1928 first Dutch Dalton Girls ’School in Holland

New York Dalton School

influence beyond the border46
Influence Beyond the Border

Agnes Windt Cadotte

Helen Parkhurst

Mary Davison Bradford

agnes windt cadotte great lady island teacher 1903 1980
Agnes Windt Cadotte“Great Lady” Island Teacher1903-1980
  • 1965 Cadotte retired after 24 years in one room school on Madeline Island
  • Lighthouse for highlighting literacy
  • Taught 3 generations of Island children and their families
agnes windt cadotte no child is an island 1903 1980
Agnes Windt CadotteNo Child is an Island1903-1980
  • Each child one dream
  • Teach the whole child
  • Home school methods
  • Island children deserve best in education methods
cadotte accomplishments
Cadotte Accomplishments
  • Influenced three generations of children
  • Dedicated to professional development
  • Life-long commitment to Madeline Island community
  • Recognized by Wisconsin Governor Patrick Knowles who attended Cadotte’s recognition banquet on Madeline Island
cadotte biography
Cadotte Biography
  • Born Mellen, WI 1903
  • Oldest child in Polish Catholic family of 12 children
  • Attended Ashland County Teacher’s Normal College at Ashland at 17
  • Accepted temporary teaching position on Madeline Island at age 19
from mainland to lake superior s madeline island
From Mainland toLake Superior’s Madeline Island
  • April, 1922 Warren Harding President of US when Agnes Windt crossed frozen channel between Bayfield and Madeline Island by horse and sleigh
  • “I had never given much thought about my destination being an island, but as I crossed that cold, windswept strait to get to it, my heart began to sink. It looked so lonely and desolate. I said to myself, it’s a good thing that I am coming over as just a substitute teacher because I don’t think I will stay.”

View from the Mission Inn around 1920

cadotte biography52
Cadotte Biography
  • Windt married Joseph Cadotte, Native islander and returned to Mellen in the 1930’s
  • Returned to Madeline Island and was once again asked to teach where she remained the sole teacher until 1965
  • Taught K through Grade 10 until high school was consolidated in Ashland
  • Duties other than teaching included making hot lunches, supervising the playground and regularly visiting Island families to discuss schooling issues
  • Served as librarian for ten years following retirement from teaching
cadotte biography53
Cadotte Biography
  • Completed a bachelors degree in teaching in 1962 attending summer sessions at Northland College and Superior State University
  • Attended Wisconsin NEA conventions in Milwaukee and other teacher conventions in Minnesota and Wisconsin to keep abreast of teaching issues and methods
  • Retired in 1965 “I don’t think I would have retired then; it wasn’t my age. I just didn’t have the strength”.
influence beyond madeline island
Influence Beyond Madeline Island
  • Most island school children found their way to “mainland” in Wisconsin-Nation
  • Referred by them as “A Great Lady” for dedicated service and devotion to Island children and their families
  • Instilled values of community service, self-development and education
combined influence
Combined Influence

142 years of teaching and service among Bradford, Parkhurst and Cadotte

Touched thousands of lives

Provided vision for potential

Held sacred the gift and grace of the individual

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