* school uniform schoolwear : United States -- activities walking to school





U.S. School Activities: Walking to School


Figure 1.--Here we see two children walking to school, we think in the late 1930s. The car helps dae the image, it could be the very early 40s. (Here the car can help date the image, perhaps a HBC reader expert in cars can help us. They look rather well dressed for school. Click on the image for a fuller discussion.

American children before World War II mosly walked to school. The primarry sollution was opening lahe numbrts of small schools, often one room schools, throughout rural ares. This worked farily well for primary education east of the Missisppi where there were large numbrs of family farms. The population density was the key factor. Andit declined as you moved west. Here a variety of factors were involved involving demographics and the type of school. Elementary (primary) schools were generally built so most of the children could walk to school. The size of the schools generally made them local community fixtures. Rural children often had long walks, commonly more than a mile, not unommonly 23 miles. Some pf the childrn came to school on horses. With the advent of automobiles, walking in the cities became more dangerous. This was especially true as cars became faster and more common. One answer was the school safty patrol. The older boys manned street corners around the school. The program was sponsored by the American Automobile Association (AAA). I remember my badge and with the three large As and white belt. By the 1920s and 30s corduroy knickers wetre common. Boys in rural areas might wear overalls. Striped "T"-shirts and jeans were very common in elementary schools. This was common school clothes at the times. While cars posed a danger for kids, motor vehicles also provided a means to transport children living some distance to the school. This created a new school item--the yellow school bus. Thus really long walks disappeared as apart of American education. High schools had to be larger than elementary schools, in part because of the more varied course offerings. Thus not so many of the students were able to walk to school, although a number did live close enough to do so. Most high schools in the 1950s did not allow boys to dress in colarless shirts and jeans.

Chronology

American children before World War II mosly walked to school. Here a variety of factors were involved involving demographics and the type of school. Children in the 19th century had to live close to a school if they wanted an education. This problem was partly solved in rural areas by building a large number of small primary schools. Children who wanted to go on to secondary schools would have to move in with relatives in towns and cities. Unlike Europe, in part because of larger farms, farm familt did not live in villages. And land from a very early point in America's development was provided to finance schools in rural areas. This mean that most children in rural areas lived within walking distance, albeit often a long walk, of a local primary school. Unfirtunately there are very few photographic images of 19th century children walking to school. There are class portraits at school, but very few images of the childrten on their way to school. This changes with the development od the simolified, amateur snapshit at the turn-of-the 20th century. Suddenly we have countless photographs of school children. Today we have this image of rural boys dressed in overalls walking to school. In fact, the overalls didd not become common in rural schools until about 1910. And soon after the dynamic of walking long distances to school began to change soon after. Henry Ford's assembly-line Model-T soon lead to trucks and World War I greatly expanded the use of trucks. After the War, school busses began to appear in America and were an increasinly important fact (1930s). School busses appeared that could inexpensively transport large number of children considerable distances to school. By the 1920s and 30s corduroy knickers wetre common.Striped "T"-shirts and jeans were very common in elementary schools. This was common school clothes at the times. Many American children still walk to school, especially primary children. This is because primary (elementary schools) are relatively small and located in residenbtial neigborhoods. Most secondary students, however, ride busses because the schools are larger with more expansive catchment areas.

Rural Areas

The biggest problem in getting to school was in rurl areas. Unlike the situation in Europe where many farmers lived in villages and worked often small ploys, American fatm familiies lived on the farm, ofte sizeable plots. This made for widely dispersed rural populations. The American answer for this was to build small, in many cases, one-room schools in rural areas. This was part of the Northwest Ordinance fom the very beginning of the American Republic. Govenment land sales included a sector for a school. This left most farm children within walking distance of a school, although some had rather long walks which could be gruling during the winter. Some times the chikdren would somply stay at school when a blizzard struck. The first school bus appeared in London (1810s). Horse drawn carriages were being used in America (1880s). They first began used in the Northeat and gradually spread west. Motor vehicles appeared (1910s). Most rural children still walked to work. Funding a school bus fleet was a challenge for many rural school systems. After World War II the yellow school bus became a standard item both in rural and suburban schools. All children living beyond a certain distance with very few exceptions wee provided transport to school.

School Design

Elementary schools were generally built so most of the children could walk to school. In rural areas the schools were often quite small. The size of the schools generally made them local community fixtures. Rural children often had long walks. Some came to school on horses.

The Automobile

The automobile greatly increased the mobility of the American people. And this included children. But at first this the auto was a play thing for a realtively small number of wealthy people. Henry Ford and the assembly-line produced Model-T changed everything, at least in America. Some parents took to driving their children to school. This was initially a matter of distance. And thus children could get to school even if they lived considerable distance from the school wihout a long walk. In recent years security became more of a factor. And at high schools, the older studens were old enough to drive if their paents could afford a second car. The more important impact of Ford and the Model-T was, however, the ubiquitous modern yellow school bus.

Crossing Guards

With the advent of automobiles, walking in the cities became more dangerous. Of course even before the car, there were dangers for little children. But cars were faster than horse-drawn carts. This was especially true as cars became faster and more common. Police manned major intersections to help city children. But policemen could only man a few interesections and with millions of school children, there was a need to help the younger children get home. One answer was the school safty patrol. The older boys manned street corners around the school. The program was sponsored by the American Automobile Association (AAA). I remember my badge and with the three large As and white belt. We seem to see more use of adult crossing guards in recent years, often middle-age men and women who live in the community. The SSP still exists , but seems to have declined somewhat in importance.

School Busses

School busses appeared in the 19th century along with the development of the public school system. We believe they first appeared in America, although our information is limited. Wayne Works which developed into the Wayne Corporation was founded in the United States (1837). We do not know when they produced the first horse-drawn school carriages, but this became a part of their business (1880s). We are not sure just how these early school busses were used and where. These school carriages were popularly known as "school hacks" as well as other terms. We do not think that they were very common. School busses were essentially a derivitive of Henry Ford's model-T. Inexpensive assembly-line trucks began to replace horse drawn carriages in the 1910s. Here World War I was an important factor in this trend, especially in America. While cars posed a danger for kids, motor vehicles also provided a means to inexpensively and quickly transport children to school. Initially we see school busses in rural areas during the 1920s. They essentially meant that farm children could have access to the same quality and level of education as city children. It would mean the demise of the small rural one-room school. School busses began to take their modern shape and expand in numbers (1930s). Bothing like this occurred in Europe. Children with the modern school bus could be transportedsome distance to the school. Thus really long walks disappeared as apart of American education. And the yellow school bus became an essential factor in American education..

Secondary Schools

High schools had to be larger than elementary schools, in part because of the more varied course offerings. Thus not so many of the students were able to walk to school, although a number did live close enough to do so. Most high schools in the 1950s did not allow boys to dress in colarless shirts and jeans.







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Created: 10:07 PM 4/11/2008
Last updated: 3:56 PM 5/26/2011