As the children of Latah County return to classes this week, we are reminded of the area’s long history of educational excellence. Generations of Latah residents have sent their sons and daughters off to schools big and small, believing that a good education would ensure future successes.
Some schools, like that at American Ridge, were quite small. Such places served both primary and secondary students in the rural area. Teachers were expected to provide lesson for children with a wide range of capabilities, while simultaneously managing a classroom of diverse learners.
Each small town in Latah County also had its own school. In places like Deary, the children would enjoy smaller class sizes and a handful of dedicated teachers who could devote more time and energy into tailoring lessons to a child’s age.
While in Moscow, the younger children attended formal elementary schools and the older students were educated at the high school.
Yet, no matter where they were they attended school, Latah County children were sure to receive a first-rate education in a nurturing and enjoyable environment.
So what were students learning in decades past? The museum maintains a rich collection of textbooks donated by Latch County residents, and this provides us with a window into the teachings of an earlier era.
For example, Johnny Sandberg of Dry Creek, School District No. 83 near Troy, received instruction based on Mace’s A School History of the United States (1904). A review of the book’s study questions reveals a great deal about the country’s contemporary political climate and concerns.
“Ought the Unites States to govern the Philippines or give them independence? To what race do the inhabitants of the Philippines belong? What was the cause of the insurrection (in the Philippines)?” “Describe some effects upon a country of the reckless use of its natural resources. Describe the inventions for the conquest of the air.” “How have the great wheat farms and flouring mills affected the farmers to the eastward? Ask your grandfather about the old-time grist and saw mills. Where did George Washington get his beef? Where do you get yours?”
Another student textbook, Loyal Citizenship (1929), provided an introduction to civic education for middle school aged children. The text’s preface in some ways reflects the culture of the era, and yet also contains words that ring true today.
We send our best wishes to all students returning to school. Finally, remember that our archives are a great resource for students of any age working on research projects!