Back to School (Two Centuries Back)

By Katherine Dalton for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2009/09/back-to-school-two-centuries-back/

Ah, September.  The enervating heat of August is less, and school starts up again with all the hopefulness and energy of a new academic year.  I still feel the year begins in September.  For those of you with children, and those of you called to profess, here is a bit from Margaret Coit’s 1950 biography John C. Calhoun: American Portrait—for use next time someone complains of his homework load.

Before going to Yale (which Calhoun entered as a junior in 1802), he studied for two years at the “log academy” of his brother-in-law, Dr. Moses Waddell.  The boys lived in cabins, survived on a diet of cornbread and bacon, were roused by a horn at dawn, and studied from sunrise till nine p.m. seven days a week (with debates on Friday nights and some time for hunting on Saturdays).  “[T]hey studied their grammar and syntax, their Vigil and Homer, with intensity,” Coit writes.  “A hundred and fifty memorized lines a day would be the quota for the slower pupils; over a thousand, for the brilliant ones.”

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