By Kim Laura Kühne
The bell rings. Time to line up. Girls on one side and boys on the other. Stay straight, chin up and arms behind your back. Walk into the classroom. Girls first. Stand until the teacher tells us to sit. Girls on one side and boys on the other. Sit up straight and fold your arms. Everything has its strict order. And you don't want to break those rules as the punishment methods were horrible. Turns out, my grandmother didn't tell us those stories to scare us, it was all the truth.
There were three different methods of punishments, depending on what they did.
Number 1: The teacher told you to sit on the punishment bench, next to the teachers desk. Doesn't sound that bad, but you have to consider that you were exposed and everyone knew you had done something bad. Now imagine the headmaster walks in while you're sitting there...
Number 2: The belt. The teacher hits your hands with a leather strap six times.
Number 3: The teacher sends you to the headmaster who hits you harder with a thicker belt.
Quick side note here - what where they thinking??!! They punished students with the belt for terrible hand-writing. Did they seriously think your handwriting would be better after that? I assume it looked even worse when you had to write with sore hands and fingers. But back to our Victorian school lesson.
On today's timetable were the 3 Rs: Reading wRiting and aRithmetic. Maths first on. Oh no! Let's say it all together: 7 times 1 is 7. 7 times 2 is 14. 7 times 3 is 21 and so on. Followed by an exam, testing your mental arithmetic skills. Teachers instructions "Write your name on top of your slate and then the number 1 till 5.
Question 1: On a field are 5 men, 2 women, a dog and a horse. How many legs are on the field?
Question 2: In a room are three windows. Each window consist of 8 small glass plates. How many glass plates are in the whole room?
Question 3: Little Tom is 6 years old today. How old will he be in 9 years time?
Question 4: You have 5 flowers. Each of them has 3 petals. How many petals do all the flowers have together?
Question 5: A stamp costs 1 penny. You have 2 shillings. How many stamps can you buy?
Lucky me, I got 4 out of 5. The last question really confused me, as I'm not use to this currency. But moving on, it's time for writing.
Yes! Finally some fun. It felt like being back in primary school when you had to do some nice writing tasks. The difference was we used a fountain pen with ink out of a dispenser. Definitely my favourite part. I don't remember when I sat down the last time to write something that nicely.
And now the last part of the class, the only proper R: Reading.Let's read it out lout all together: Play the game! Every boy and girl should try to speak, read, write and count well. Learning can be made an excellent game with you on one side and difficulties on the other. Just try to win and you will gain the best of prizes. A good education. Never think of anything as hard work. Just say to yourself: "Play the game!"
What a wonderful and true statement to end our lesson in the Victorian classroom.
By the way the answers to the metal arithmetic questions.
Answer 1: 32
Answer 2: 24
Answer 3: 15
Answer 4: 15
Answer 5: 24
How many could you answer correctly? Do you know any interesting school stories from your parents or grandparents? Tell us about it.