Milam C. Rowold, of Pflugerville, Texas, is co-author of a new book entitled Ringing the Children In: Texas Country Schools. Here are the voices from those schoolhouses, as the authors sought out and interviewed dozens of country school teachers and students.
The authors re-create the lost world of Texas rural education, when teachers taught and students learned the basics that everybody talks about returning to. The order of the day was strict discipline, steadfast parental support, eagerness to learn, practical jokes and pranks, physical hardships, and rigid moral codes.
Teachers had to be paradigms of wisdom, fairness, and virtue and were expected to punish incompetence and disobedience with rulers, switches, and ridicule; they had to be the school nurse and janitor as well as teacher for all grades and subjects.
Ringing the Children In concludes with the argument that the rural schools worked far better than their critics believed.