This article by Bill Kaufffman, from the Wall Street Journal, captures much of what I appreciate (and regret) from my one-room school experience.
I appreciate that I had the same teacher (Mrs. Smith) for grades 2-8. She fits the profile described in the article (except that she was not single). She was married to a farmer. They lived with her parents less than a mile from our house. His name was Collin, but everyone called him Smitty. He would drive Mrs. Smith to school each day in his ’49 Chevy pickup; except for the days when the snow was too deep and required a tractor (we didn’t have snow days).
I appreciate that we could count on Mrs. Smith for everything. She was our teacher (academics as well as art and music), principal, custodian, counselor, nurse, and recess referee. She was the only adult in the room.
I appreciate that for most of the school day, my time was my own. I had the skills and aptitudes to get my assignments done quickly; so, spent good chunks of the day reading books from the traveling library, drawing, and sometimes just day-dreaming. I got lots of practice as self-directed learner.
I appreciate having been in a multi-grade, multi-age environment. I often paid close attention to what the older kids were talking about in their recitations at the teacher’s desk. And, when I became one one of the older kids, I got to work as a teacher aid – meeting with younger kids in the back of the room to check assignments and provide extra help. I got lots of experience in the roles of teacher aid and tutor.
My major regret from the one-room school experience (especially having been the only kid in my class) is that I had an awful time adjusting to high school and beyond. More about that, later.