My sister was talking to me the other day about the possibility of her and a few other like minded parents starting a one room school house. The idea being that it would be the best of both worlds; a happy medium between public and home school. I live too far away to benefit, but the idea really appeals to me. But then I get to thinking about what it would really entail, and I wonder if the ideal that we have of one room school houses would be possible to recreate in the 21st century.
What comes to mind is the part in Little Town on the Prairie (I think that's the one) where they get the very green and unwise Miss Wilder as a School Mistress. Miss Wilder starts out by telling the class that she hopes they can all get along and have fun together. Nothing is said about discipline, and it soon becomes apparent that she has no discipline plan, and consequently the class disintegrates into mayhem. To make matters worse, she is unfair, and even cruel to the Ingalls girls. The part that is thought provoking though, is even though Miss Wilder is clearly in the wrong, Pa expects his girls to obey and respectfully submit to punishment even when it is unfairly dealt. I wonder how many parents today would hold their children to that standard.
In order for a one room school house to work, all the children have to be able to sit quietly and do their work, and in order for this to be accomplished, strict discipline would have to be maintained, and the parents would have to respect the teacher's ruling. Another book that comes to mind is The Rainbow, where Ursula Brangwen is rapidly loosing control of her monstrously large class of sixty students. The last straw snaps, and she beats the holy crap out of the main trouble maker in order to gain a little respect. The mother of the boy does complain, but no one thinks much of it. It was necessary to gain control. Obviously this was extreme, (and fictional) but it goes to show the climate of the time.
Modern parent; sometimes Homeschooling parents in particular, are very concerned with protecting their children from the injustices of the world. For the most part this is probably a good thing, but there is a lot of fall out because of it. Authority figures are not held in the same high esteem that they once were, and I can imagine it would be hard for a teacher to maintain a peaceful learning environment while tiptoeing around parents concerns when disciplinary action is needed.
I would be very curious to see a functioning one room school house today, and see if it's as idyllic as the past would have us believe, and see how they dealt with modern issues and kids. I do think the idea of a one room school house is commendable, but would like to see it applied.