Kids in School (1862-1973)

Historical context

The first public school in the future United States opened in Boston in 1653, but most children were educated at home, either by parents, the church, or tutors, if the family was wealthy. Most tax-supported public schools only educated boys. By the 19th century, American children, boys and girls, were largely educated in public schools. The number of public schools greatly increased by the end of the 19th century, in urban and rural areas. School laws changed over time; by 1918, elementary school was compulsory for all children, and until 1954, "separate but equal" school segregation by race was legal. Children's school experiences have varied based on their location, gender, race, socio-economic status, ability, and other factors.

Culturally relevant pedagogy considerations

An important consideration when comparing student experiences across time and culture is to explicitly discuss and define the concepts of same and different. There are often unconscious connections drawn between the idea of "same" and the idea of "better"; conversely unconscious connections may be drawn between the idea of "different" and "worse". Consider how those unconscious biases may affect how you view these photographs and explicitly explore that concept with students as they observe this set. Push them to find connections rather than become preoccupied with the unfamiliar. Finally, ensure that a clear purpose guides their thinking about these images and why it matters for students to look at them today.

Freedmen’s School, Edisto Island, SC

Date: 1862-1865
Creator: Samuel A. Cooley
Type: Photograph

Female students playing basketball in a gynmasium, Washington, D.C.

Date: 1899
Creator: Frances Benjamin Johnston
Type: Photograph

Eskimo school children

Date: 1900-1930
Creator: Unknown
Type: Photograph

Playground baseball, Madison School baseball

Date: 1914
Creator: Unknown
Type: Photograph

Williams School, Brush, Co.

Date: 1915
Creator: Lewis Hine
Type: Photograph

School in session, Pocahantos County, W.V.

Date: 1921
Creator: Lewis Hine
Type: Photograph

Student reads from Braille text

Date: 1937
Creator: WPA
Type: Photograph

Playground scene

Date: 1938
Creator: John Vachon
Type: Photograph

Five-cent hot lunches at the Woodville Public School, Georgia

Date: 1941
Creator: Jack Delano
Type: Photograph

Washington D.C. science class in a Negro high school

Date: 1942
Creator: Marjory Collins
Type: Photograph

School children, Manzanar Relocation Center

Date: 1943
Creator: Ansel Adams
Type: Photograph

African American and white children on a school bus

Date: 1973
Creator: Warren Leffler
Type: Photograph


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