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Where did the dunce cap come from? What about the Pledge of Allegiance? In this back to school episode of The List Show, Erin(@erincmccarthy) breaks down 32 ways school in the U.S. was different 100 years ago.

Swedish gymnasts and fans of the Trapper Keeper will want to watch. You’ll learn why factories operated their own schools and where the first high school was built.

In case you forgot, The List Show is a trivia-tastic, fact-filled show for curious people. Subscribe here for new List Show episodes the first and third Wednesday of each month: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpZ5qUqpW4hW4zdfuBxMSJA?sub_confirmation=1

For more facts about the schools of bygone days, check out our article, 11 Ways School Was Different in the 1800s: https://mentalfloss.com/article/58705/11-ways-school-was-different-1800s

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Did you know that a hundred years ago mills and factories in the U.

S. operated their own schools? Hi, I'm Erin McCarthy, editor-in-chief of Mental Floss.com.

At the time many kids had jobs ,whether on family farms or with those companies. This meant that regular 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. school hours weren't always a thing. Some children attended elementary and high school at night.

In certain cities it was mandatory to provide night school for children. And that's the first of many ways school was different a hundred years ago in the U. S. than I'm going to share with you today.

Probably most Americans you know have attended school, but a hundred years ago that was not as common of an experience. In fact, in 1900 just 51 percent of people between the ages of five and nineteen were enrolled in school. That changed quickly, becoming 75% by 1940, likely due to many factors, including education reform and child labor laws.

There have been what are essentially high schools in the U. S. ever since what's now known as the Boston Latin School was founded in 1635, but high school attendance was particularly low a hundred years ago. In 1900 about eleven percent of 14 to 17 year olds attended high school and by 1920 things hadn't changed much.

According to an analysis done by the National Center for Education Statistics, the median years of school completed by persons aged 25 and over at that time was 8.2 years. In rural areas in the U. S. there was usually a single school with a single room where one teacher handled every kid in grades 1 through 8.

They set in order of age, with the youngest up front and the oldest in the back. Cities had bigger schools, with multiple classrooms. As I mentioned earlier, work had a big impact on school days.

It also affected the length of the school year. Nowadays, most states require a minimum of 180 days of instruction per year in public schools, but in 1905 the average school had just 151 days. And children typically missed more days of school back then, too.

The average student attended only a hundred and six days per year. Kids who worked on farms, in particular, took a lot of absences. They would usually take the spring and autumn off to work.

And maybe that wasn't so terrible. In the 1900s it wasn't unusual for teachers to dole out corporal punishment. The Board of Education in Franklin, Ohio laid out its rules in 1883, which included this: "Pupils may be detained at any recess or not exceeding 15 minutes after the hour for closing the afternoon session, when the teacher deemed such detention necessary for the commitment of lessons or for the enforcement of discipline.

Whenever it shall become necessary for teachers to resort to corporal punishment, the same shall not be inflicted upon head or hands of the pupil. Other school systems allowed teachers more freedom. They were known to hit students' knuckles with a ruler, along with conducting other physical forms of punishment, like having a child write a single phrase over and over again.

One way to potentially end up on the receiving end of corporal punishment? Being left handed. For decades into the 20th century, many educators believe that lefties exhibited more mental and cognitive disabilities and attempted to train them into right-handedness.

Methods to achieve this included tying up a student's left hand to immobilize it and outright humiliating students who refused to make the switch. Thanks to EmilyExplosion27 for the suggestion and to educational experts, who now disfavor training left handedness out of students. And then of course there was the infamous dunce cap...which was real.

If a child got in trouble, a teacher would put a pointy cap on their head (which according to nineteenth-century accounts occasionally featured bells to add extra shame) and then have them sit in the corner of the room. There are people who remember it still being used as a punishment well into the 1950s. It's commonly reported that the dunce cap came from John Duns Scotus, a religious philosopher born in the 13th century.

He gained a following of people who would come to be called dunces and supposedly wore pointy hats. Scotus thought that the hats allowed for knowledge to be funneled into the brain, but eventually his teachings fell out of favor and both the word and the cap took on a negative connotation. Sadly, evidence for this theory about the origin of the hats is lacking.

Around 1919, about 84 percent of teachers were women. Compare that with the Year 1800, when 90% of teachers were men. It became a career path primarily for women when public education boomed during the mid 1800s.

Basically, education reformers wanted to show that the system could be cheap, so they filled the new teaching jobs with women who were paid much less than men. It's important to note here that school looked very different depending on who you were. Girls and boys did not receive the same education.

Girls were pushed towards home economics and other classes that focused on domestic skills, and in some places girls weren't even allowed to enter school through the same door as boys. More starkly, schools were racially segregated. The ones that white children attended were much better funded than the schools for black children, which often used old books and supplies that white schools had gotten rid of.

Teachers in the two systems experienced a major pay disparity. In 1954 segregation of schools was ruled unconstitutional, but true equity remains a vexing problem for education reformers today. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries children and classrooms were beginning to learn and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which was written by a man named Francis Bellamy when he worked in a magazine marketing department in 1892.

The original words were simply, "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." A lot of what kids were expected to do in the classroom was just memorize things. In every subject, from writing to arithmetic, the expectation was that students would memorize and recite the important components of the lessons. Homework mostly entailed practicing that memorization.

Here's a selection from McGuffey's Eclectic Readers, a textbook that was often memorized at the time. "This is a fat hen. The hen has a nest in the box. She has eggs in the nest.

A cat sees the nest and can get the eggs." This feels like slander against cats, frankly. They'd be more interested in the hen. Anyway, by 1919 that teaching style was starting to become less of a staple.

During the late 19th century and early 20th century the progressive education movement was underway, and it was led by reformers like John Dewey and Ella Flagg Young. As the first female superintendent of the school system in a major American city (Chicago), Young focused on teacher training and empowerment, in addition to her writings on educational theory. These philosophers and educators encouraged a shift in focus, from forcing children to memorize to empowering them with more options.

They wanted the classroom to be communal and democratic, rather than all about a teacher up front telling kids what to do. Although their vision never fully became a reality, schools did implement parts of it. One interesting attempt occurred in Gary, Indiana where schools were turned into microcosms of communities.

Students were expected to apply the practical skills they were learning to help keep schools running. This could include cooking and serving food to their classmates, building their own desks or even handling plumbing and electrical work in school buildings (with supervision, of course)>. Speaking of hands-on activities, we've had music in the classroom for many year.

Public schools had music classes, usually teaching music theory, singing or instruments. This meant that teachers also had to learn music as part of their training. Luckily for the eardrums of early twentieth-century parents, the recorder didn't become the standard starter instrument for students until the mid 20th century.

Okay, who's heard of Fifty Nifty United States? Well kids in 1919 weren't singing that, of course, because it wasn't written until the 1960s. But they were singing songs like A Cat Land Law, Looby Looby Song of the Noisy Children and Dollies' Washing Day.

By the way, my elementary school music teacher made us sing pretty standard songs, like Fifty Nifty—which I can still do—along with some head scratchers, like Billy Don't Be a Hero,. Both Sides Now, and Send in the Clowns— because what nine-year-old doesn't love wistful explorations of lost love? Leave the weird songs you sang in school in the comments.

Even a hundred years ago kids couldn't escape gym class, which was sometimes called physical culture. German gymnastics and Swedish gymnastics were two of the most popular styles of P. E., or P.

C., used at the time. The former involved lifting weights, using balance beams climbing ladders and ropes, and doing some cardio, like running. The Swedish style sometimes made use of similar equipment, but was more focused on simple, whole body exercises, and had a more organized method, with adults delivering instructions, going from easy movements to challenging ones over the course of the class.

As the 20th century began, gym classes also started incorporating lessons on hygiene and health. Recess did exist at this time, and had since the 1800s, though unfortunately little research has been done into its history. We do know that by 1919 many popular playground games have been invented, like jacks, Red Rover, hopscotch and kickball.

Kickball was actually just emerging in the U. S., coming out of Cincinnati in 1917. As the 19th century was ending, some school lunch programs were beginning in cities like Philadelphia and Boston.

By the early 1920s many schools had followed suit and provided hot food, like soups. I would be remiss if I didn't mention this, because my mother and I still talk about it all the time, but once she sent me to school with a peanut butter and carrot sandwich for lunch. *Jon (off screen): That's negligent* Back-to-school shopping was a thing in the early 20th century, but it wasn't quite like what we have today. No visits to Target and no Minions backpacks or Trapper Keepers.

One 1924 ad from a Montana store urged parents to let kids do the shopping themselves, saying, quote, "Train the children to do their own buying economically and in good taste. They are safe to shop here because we will make exchanges or refund their money if their selections are not entirely approved at home." The supplies they were buying were certainly different. Kids in classrooms did most of their work with a slate and a piece of chalk because paper and ink were expensive.

There was typically a blackboard in the front of the room, as well. Blackboards began to be manufactured around the 1840s. Scottish teacher James Pillans is often cited as the inventor of the blackboard.

In the early 1800s he supposedly connected a bunch of individual slates together to make one big enough for the maps in his geography classes. As you're probably gathering, kids back in the day didn't have it easy. I, for one, have no interest in Swedish gymnastics.

One other thing that wasn't as easy as it is for most kids today was getting to school. Transportation to school wasn't standardized, though it does seem like an awful lot of our grandparents had the same five mile walk to school, in the snow, uphill both ways. Kids were expected to get to school by any means possible, which could mean hitching a ride on a wagon, carriage or cart.

The modern idea of school buses started emerging in the first decades of the 20th century and by the early 1930s there were around sixty three thousand of them in the United States. And finally, a hundred years ago it was sometimes illegal to learn another language in school. For example, Nebraska passed a law in 1919 that meant that no one could learn a foreign language in school before they, quote, "successfully passed the eighth grade." Iowa had a similar law, and because World War one had just ended even states without English-only laws on the books removed German classes from their schools.

In 1923 the Supreme Court ruled that these laws were unconstitutional. Our next episode is about the etymology of words and phrases from Harry Potter, so pop your favorite Potter spell in the comments and we'll break it down in our. September 18th video.

Subscribe here so you don't miss it, and we'll see you muggles then!