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March 23, 2020

10 Rules for Teachers, and for Students in 1872

You couldn’t drink or smoke. In women’s cases, you couldn’t date, marry, or frequent ice cream parlors. And, for men, getting a shave in a barber shop was strictly verboten. Below are some rules for teachers in 1872:

1. Teachers will fill the lamps and clean the chimney each day.
2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day's sessions.
3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual tastes of the pupils.
4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
6. Women teachers who marry or engage in improper conduct will be dismissed.
7. Every teacher should lay aside from each day's pay a goodly sum of his earnings. He should use his savings during his retirement years so that he will not become a burden on society.
8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, visits pool halls or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop, will give good reasons for people to suspect his worth, intentions, and honesty.
9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.
10. You may ride in a buggy with a man, if the man is your father or your brother.

Sometimes the document includes a list of equally onerous rules for students as well:

1. Respect your schoolmaster. Obey him and accept his punishments.
2. Do not call your classmates names or fight with them. Love and help each other.
3. Never make noises or disturb your neighbors as they work.
4. Be silent during classes. Do not talk unless it is absolutely necessary.
5. Do not leave your seat without permission.
6. No more than one student at a time may go to the washroom.
7. At the end of class, wash your hands and face. Wash your feet if they are bare.
8. Bring firewood into the classroom for the stove whenever the teacher tells you to do this chore.
9. Go quietly in and out of the classroom.
10. If the master calls your name after class, straighten the benches and tables. Sweep the room, dust, and leave everything tidy.

The source of these rules are unknown. They have been attributed to Monroe County, Iowa; a one-room schoolhouse in Maine; and an unspecified schoolhouse in Arizona.


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