Education Enlightenment

The Old School Style

2 min readJan 16, 2021

The majority of America's youth has the opportunity to receive schooling, but is the school system really the best it can be to adequately prepare them for their future? Welcome to the Education Enlightenment where we talk about the education system from the view of a student with real facts and potential solutions.

Today we are talking about how the American schooling styles have been around for hundreds of years, barely changing in our ever evolving world. The average school day for a elementary student in the Twenty-first century looks like this:

  • Arrive around 8:00 am
  • Morning lessons
  • Short 30 minute recess (on average)
  • More lessons
  • Break for lunch (about 30 minutes)
  • Another short 30 minute Recess
  • Lessons
  • Get out at around 3:00 pm

This school day was designed in the industrial age (late 1800s into the 1900s) to create kids who could follow directions and essentially create the same product (Source one, Source two). A school day in the 1860s-1870s went accordingly:

  • Start the day at nine
  • lessons
  • Lunch/nooning (one hour)
  • lessons
  • Recess (one hour)
  • School ends at anytime between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm

Sounds familiar right? There may be some slight changes but none large enough to hide the fact that the school structure is essentially the same. Lessons were learned, memorized, and then presented to fellow classmates similar to projects today (source 4). The classroom setting of schools are even uncannily similar;

Picture on the left: classroom in the 1800s (source 5) Photo on the right: modern day classroom (source 6)

The 1800s and early 1900s are full of behaviors and things that we have since changed as we have evolved into the twenty-first century. Perhaps its time to re-evaluate our schooling system too.

Source one

“Six Problems with Our School System.”, 15 Dec. 2016,

Source two

McDonald, Kerry. “Schooling Was for the Industrial Era, Unschooling Is for the Future: Kerry McDonald.” FEE Freeman Article, Foundation for Economic Education, 8 Oct. 2017,,the%20factories%20that%20most%20students%20would%20ultimately%20join.

Source three

MCcarthy, Erin. “11 Ways School Was Different in the 1800s.” Mental Floss, 7 Jan. 2016,

Source four

Blakemore, Erin. “In Early 1800s American Classrooms, Students Governed Themselves.”, A&E Television Networks, 6 Sept. 2017,

Source five

Thomas, JD. “Gilder Lehrman Reports on Teaching Literacy Through History.” Accessible Archives, 1 May 2013,;_ylu=c2VjA2ZwLWF0dHJpYgRzbGsDcnVybA — /RV=2/RE=1610796976/RO=11/

Source six

P., Nicholas. “Cell Analogy: Classroom .” Thinglink, 2015,