Part of the fun of Anne: The Animated Series is watching the kids from the series grow up. A fun, but typical part of their daily lives was attending school. School days back then were quite different then. With the lazy, hazy days of summer soon coming to a close we look back on the major differences between school in the time of Avonlea and now.
Many schools today are large buildings with many classrooms. In Anne: The Animated Series however, that was not the case. The one school in Avonlea was a one room schoolhouse taught by a single school teacher. In the late 1800s, children from six years old to sixteen would attend school.
Though it is hard to imagine now, children were not separated by grade, but rather by ability. The younger students tended to sit in the front and the older in the back. Sometimes older students would help the younger ones which would certainly help the teacher. Can you imagine being taught by one teacher for all your subjects? Seating by ability would certainly help a teacher whose attention was often divided in many ways.
Teaching in those days wasn’t easy (ask Hetty King), many schools back then had very books and even fewer supplies. Consistent with modern times, teachers earned some poor salaries and arranging accommodation throughout the year could be challenging. Good behavior was enforced and teachers often had to be tough. Children were punished if they misbehaved usually by means considered cruel nowadays. Some teachers would employ the dunce cap, or the more severe rod or the leather strap lashing to the palm.
We watch Gilbert and Anne compete for the best marks through the series and that’s because not only were students expected to be well behaved but also to know their stuff. Subjects like arithmetic, reading and writing were important, but students were also expected to know how to recite texts from memory. It wasn’t all work however. Students looked forward to lunch and community events which were often held at schools. School, much like today, was a great way for kids to interact with other children outside of their family.
Schoolhouses in the era of Avonlea were a source of pride for the community. A place where there children were not only educated, but served as the base for all community activities, meetings, dances and social gatherings.
You can watch all of Anne’s animated adventures on DVD!