A Day in the Classroom Before Cars and Computers

In this modern era, it is hard to imagine a world without technology. It seems as if we are moving at warp speed into a futuristic possibility. The further into a technological world we get, the farther away our histories seem. There was a time before computers and even cars that remind us of our humble past. It is important to remember the paths we have taken to become the advanced society we are today.

The wonders all began in a classroom. Some of our greatest inventors that started it all attended a small school house. Most had one room and only one teacher for all of the students.  If a child chose to farm or work, they could do so without gaining an education. The schools were in very rural settings and had very few students. Children from grades K-8 attended the same little school house. It was a completely different era than what we know now.

The Differences of Then and Now

School Supplies

In a time before colorful folders and binders, students used a slate. A slate is a small chalkboard just big enough for personal use. In lieu of pens and markers, they used chalk to configure their spelling and math equations.


Instead of the insulated lunch totes and cafeteria served lunches, children of all ages had a small metal pail. This lunch pail typically carried a small sandwich or meat and some fruits or vegetables. A piece of desert was included if the family had the resources.

School Sessions

In the 1800s, school went to the 8th grade. At this age they were expected to have the basic skills to bring them to the next steps in their life. The study topics varied through the years. With this curriculum chart, you will see how they changed as the needs of education grew.


There was no technology or digital calculators. Many of the students were able to solve math problems in their head versus needing paper. Phones had yet to make their way into stream lined societies, and computers may have been dreamt of but were not a reality at that time.


Most of the children walked for miles to and from school. There were no busses or carpooling back then. Sometimes their parents would bring them via horse and wagon. Boots were their shoe of choice which were made for durability rather than a fashion statement.

After School Activities

Staying after school usually meant you were in trouble or needed tutoring. The main activities after the school day were chores and homework. Fishing was a favorite along with socializing at church events or community gatherings.

As the Bell Rings

Our classrooms have grown and evolved through the years. Our classrooms curriculum and teaching methods are determined by the pace the world around us is moving. It is interesting that in a hundred years from now, students will be studying about classrooms in the 21st Century.

Always remember… the promises of tomorrow are made by us today.