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Activity 2.5: Life in a Restoration petty school


School scene from Tuer, A. 'A History of the Horn-Book', 1897, York Minster Library, reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of York

School scene from Tuer, A. 'A History of the Horn-Book', 1897, York Minster Library, reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of York

School scene from Tuer, A. 'A History of the Horn-Book', 1897, York Minster Library, reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of York

School scene from Tuer, A. 'A History of the Horn-Book', 1897, York Minster Library, reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of York

Image of a school from Orbis Pictus
How was life in school during the seventeenth century different from today?  This activity uses contemporary sources to compare and contrast.
  1. Display the 'Petty School Rules' (these are adapted from an essay about education written in the 1660s by Charles Hoole).
  1. Read through the rules, explaining some of the unusual spelling and phrases.
  1. Ask the children what in the rules is similar to their own experiences of school and what is different.
  1. Look at the pictures of schoolrooms on the right of this page (clicking on each picture displays a larger version) .  Ask the children some questions about the pictures, such as:
  • How many children are there in the classrooms? 
These pictures show only a few children, but there could be over 40 in a class.
  • Are the children boys and girls? 
Many more boys than girls went to school.  Usually they were educated separately, but sometimes they went to petty school together.  After petty school, some boys went to grammar school.  Girls from wealthy families were either educated at home or went to a boarding school (Venus and Adonis was actually performed at a boarding school in London in 1683).  At these schools, girls learned to sew, draw, sing and dance, but, apart from learning to read, they did not often learn academic subjects).
  • Are the children sitting at tables?
Children did not learn to write until they could read.  Only the older children, who were writing, would need a table to sit at.
  • Where is the teacher? 
The teacher sat at a desk or in a large chair.  It seems that the teachers didn't move about very much.  They might have had assistants who moved about and helped the children.
  • What is the bunch of twigs for?  In how many pictures can you see one? 
It was for punishing badly behaved children.
  • Can you see any pictures on the walls? 
Not many schoolrooms had pictures in the seventeenth century.
  • Can you see a blackboard? 
Progressive teachers favoured the use of a board.  Not all schools would have had them.
  • Looking at the different pictures, which school would you have liked to attend?  Would you have preferred school in the seventeenth century, or today?
  1. Display the table in the PDF file below on the interactive white board, or print it and give children copies.  Using what you and the children now know about life in a seventeenth-century petty school, work independently or as a class to record your knowledge on the table.  If you have time, collate your ideas and make a display.
A252_comparison_tble.pdf

Return to Activity Pack 2: School life in Restoration England

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