What Was School Like 100 Years Ago?

School 100 years ago in the United States consisted of one room for all grade levels and typically one teacher. Due to the need for the older children to help out at home, there were few children attending school in the higher grades compared to the lower grades.

As the year turned to 1900, the standard of living began to rise, making it easier for children to stay in school longer and attend grades beyond level eight. While some students would continue onto college, many of them needed to stay with their families for financial reasons. This warranted a change in curriculum for the older children that focused on local trades, such as shop, agriculture and secretarial skills. In 1917, the aid for programs directed toward agriculture and vocational education was extended by the federal government. Just prior to the 1930s, the junior high school system became widely accepted. This gave children the opportunity to combine fundamentals with useful courses that would benefit their family and home life. The 1930s depression set the education system back considerably, causing delays in construction of new schools, a decrease in teachers' salaries, and major cutbacks in extracurricular activities and curriculum. The education of children became low priority to the military priorities and needs of the nation.