I read a list of “Rules for Teachers” at the Laura Ingalls Center in Walnut Grove. Laura was a teacher during this period. She managed to keep her job due to good whittling, reading her Bible, and never, ever forgetting the scuttle of coal.
The list — and my comments:
- Teachers will fill lamps and clean the chimneys each day.
- Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session. The bucket of water contained one scooper for drinking, ensuring whooping cough and other diseases knocked on every door in the township.
- Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual tastes of pupils. I like my pens very nibby.
- Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two nights if they go to church regularly. Be sure to carry your Bible when you go a-courtin’.
- After ten hours in school, teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or good books. I’d recommend reading How to Form a Union in Country Schools.
- Women teacher (sic) who marry or engage in improper conduct will be dismissed. When women teachers marry, all their knowledge is replaced by dreams of sock darning and salt pork.
- Every teacher should lay aside from each day’s pay a goodly sum. He should use his savings in his retirement years so that he will not become a burden on society. See my note in #5.
- Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, visits the pool halls or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop, will give good reasons for people to suspect his worth, his intentions and his honesty. Those barber shops! Mainstays of pomade abuse and devil-may-care crew cuts.
- The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents per week in his pay. This generosity is null and void if men teachers go a-courtin’ three days a week. Furthermore, a pay cut is warranted for clean shaves.
See why teachers unionized?