If you were a school teacher the 1850s, here are 13 rules to which you probably were required to adhere:
1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys [lamp globes], and trim wicks.
2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and scuttle of coal for the day’s session.
3. Teachers will make their pens carefully. They may whittle nibs to individual tastes.
4. Male teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
5. After 10 hours in school teachers should spend their remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
6. Women teachers who marry or engage in uncomely conduct will be dismissed.
7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his/her earnings for his/her benefit during his/her declining years so that he/she won’t become a burden on society.
8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barbershop will give good reason to suspect his/her worth, intentions, integrity, and honesty.
9. The teacher who performs his/her labors faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents per week in his/her pay providing the Board of Education approves.
10. Teachers will maintain a garden on school grounds to provide additional food for themselves or students.
11. Teacher candidates must be at least 16, be able to read and write, do simple arithmetic, and have a clergyman’s letter in hand attesting to their sound moral character.
12. Teachers must attend a house of worship every Sunday.
13. Teachers must keep the school clean, haul any necessary wood to keep the stove going, bring water from the well, and start a pot to boil in the morning so students who bring their lunch can heat it if necessary.
What a breeze … and no emails to check. O how much more fun it is to whittle your own nibs and cut your own hair at home.