Outagamie County (Wis.) State Centennial Committee / Land of the fox, saga of Outagamie County
Mann, John P.
"Readin', 'ritin' and 'rithmetic", pp. 186-207 PDF (9.3 MB)
THE LAND OF THE FOX more than I do." He asked a few ques- tions, gave a few problems in short division and issued the license. "The most important things," wrote Mr. Root, "were school government, the three 'R's,' and the ability to get along with chil- dren." Pioneer life had its pleasures, which the school teacher shared. There were dances, log rollings, cabin raisings, quilt- ings, spelling bees and singing schools. There were Fourth of July picnics and other gatherings at the schoolhouse. Church services and Sunday schools were often held in the country schoolhouses. Some teachers "boarded round'' at pupils' homes. Such a teacher might re- ceive, in addition, a cash salary of 75 cents a week. Other teachers received about three dollars a week and paid about a dollar and a quarter a week for board. There were two school terms. The summer term, attended by girls and small children, was taught by a woman. The winter term, for which the bigger boys joined the school, had a man teacher. People were not satisfied with their first primitive schools and efforts were made. to improve the situation as early as 1849. In that year an institute was organ- ized at Green Bay to consider "a uniform system of instruction and the principle of graduation of schools." The first state superintendent, Eleazor (or Erastus) Root was present and addressed the gathering. In that same year, Lawrence Institute offered courses for teachers, in ''normal" instruction and English literature which courses were supported by the state. From a state superintendent's report of 1855, we learn that in 1854, Outagamie County had 23 districts, 1,245 pupils, with 871 attending school-''a large percentage for a backwoods county." Men teachers received an average of $19.81 per month; women an average of $10.94. State school aid, for which at least five months' school was required, amounted to $410.85 for the whole county. The total amount paid in teachers' wages was $1,432.87 and the total value of all school buildings was less than $300. The number of schools increased steadily and more attention was given to the train- ing of teachers. In 1859, at an institute in Appleton, teachers studied the educational system. In the same year a school library law was passed but the towns made little effort to start libraries. By 1862 the position of county super- intendent had been established. In this year the superintendent reported that the county had 64 districts, 20 log buildings, 37 frame schoolhouses and one of brick. The value of the buildings ranged from $10 to $5,000. Outside Appleton, there were over 3,000 children of school age and 35 teachers but there were less than 300 books in all the school libraries. Teachers were still licensed by the towns. Many young men resigned to go to the army and their places were filled by wom- en "without serious injury," according to the superintendent's report. Throughout the state, there was con- siderable friction between town and coun- ty superintendents, because of overlapping responsibility. In 1862 the town super- intendencies were abolished and the cer- tificates they had issued were annulled. After the Civil War came rapid growth in population and great industrial expan- sion. Higher standards of living gave im- petus to demands for improvements in the schools. Teachers began to look upon their work as a profession. Teachers were cer- tified by the county and were better quali- fied. The county superintendent visited all schools at least once a year to help teachers and to maintain a more uniform curriculum. In those early years he used a horse and buggy and even walked many miles to visit the schools. One outcome of professional conscious- ness was the organization in 1867 of the County Teacher's Association at Horton- ville. The first pioneer period had passed by this time. The initiative in the in- troduction of new elements of the curricu- lum, new equipment and provisions re- garding attendance began to come from 188
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