Shift From Classical High Schools to Modern 4-Year Ones

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, March 14, 1912: I wrote out the meaning of that wonderful poem today. I hope I have it as it should be. Am coming to some terrible hard propositions in geometry. The one we have for tomorrow seems so hard for me.

Recent photo of building that once housed McEwensville High School.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Did Grandma’s high school courses prepare her for the life she lived?

Grandma attended McEwensville High School—a small classical 3- year high school.  She studied geometry (and Latin)—and literature. Grandma did not go to college—and never had a career.

In the early 1900’s there was a lot of discussion about whether a classical high school education met the needs of some students.

About five miles from McEwensville a modern high was being built in Milton. There was a movement towards larger 4-year general high schools that offered a wider range of courses and different tracks (commercial, home economics, etc.).

Over the next few years, more students from McEwensville attended the more modern high school in Milton (as well as the high school in Watsontown). And, in 1921, McEwensville high school closed because of lack of students.

(The building continued to house an elementary school until 1958.)

12 Responses

  1. I enjoy your interesting historical pieces.

  2. What wonderful glimpses into the past!

  3. Did my 1960 – 1964 help prepare me for the life I’ve lived? Probably about as much as your grandmother’s did. I think she learned things they started teaching in high school at home – sewing, cooking.

  4. A hundred years later, we still have the same questions. I have not discovered how geometry has helped me in my every day life.

  5. I have to play off of what Kristin said also. Did the 1980-1986 education I receive prepare me for life. All I know is we still took home economics, budgeting, sewing, typing, etc. I guess things may be different now, but I was at the end of that era of Home economics.

    • I also was near the end of the home economics era. Somehow I find it interesting to think about what is included in (or excluded from) the curriculum in any given era.

      • That is an interesting though Sheryl. I know in our elective course in 1983-1986, I took cooking, sewing, budgeting, and I also think things like hosting a party and keeping house. I think more emphasis was on cooking and the dreaded budgeting spread sheet.

        • In the early 1900s home economics was introduced in schools to prepare “modern” women to scientifically manage their homes. It’s purpose has changed some over the years–and, of course, it is no longer a gender-specific course.

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