The Morning Routine of a Sleepy Student in 1836 By Heather Roselle

The rooster has crowed, the sun is peeking mellowly over the fields, and it is most definitely time to wake up. C’mon, get your shoes on. Actually, you’re about five minutes behind schedule and you still need to feed the barn animals, sweep the kitchen, boil water for washing, cook breakfast for your siblings, fix the lace on your left boot and– why are you putting the pillow over your head? 

Okay, you are officially late. You’re gonna be late for school then you’ll have to wear the Dunce cap plus your father will be publicly shamed for raising such an insolent child and he’s already annoyed with you because you threw pig intestines at your brother while making sausage. That was not cool. Good, that woke you up. Get dressed, get started with the chores– school begins in less than an hour! 

Great, okay, you’re all ready for the walk to school. You’re responsible for teaching addition to the younger children thanks to the new-fangled Lancastrian method, so chop-chop. What’s the Lancastrian method? Well, it’s what you’ve been doing– it’s a popular methodology of education nowadays. The teacher teaches the oldest pupil, then the oldest pupil teaches the second-oldest pupils, and so forth. You’re the second-oldest, so you’ve got a lot of responsibility on your shoulders– and if you are late, you’ll be subject to punishment from the teacher. You don’t want to wear the Dunce cap again– can you walk any faster? 

You’re lucky that you’re even in school. Most people wouldn’t even bother to teach young women, but Mr. Allaire is progressive. You attend school alongside your peers from all over the world, who were lucky enough to settle in here at the Howell Iron Works, where all children are able to receive a top-of-the-line public education. Maybe one day you can be a carpenter, or a Blacksmith– a little birdy even told me that Mr. Allaire is going to be hiring enamellers soon, too! What’s enameling? It’s the process of putting a thin glass coating on the inside of cast iron pots and pans to prevent our food from turning that shade of gray that you so delightfully compared to mold last night at dinner. 

Speaking of dinner, after school, I need you to get started on pickling the cabbage I harvested from the garden. I don’t know why we got so much this year, but it’s going to go bad if we don’t do something with it. Yes, winter seems far away, but we’re going to be out of luck if it starts getting colder and we have such few rations. Lucky for us, however, I struck a deal with the Clerk at the General Store and he’s going to give us three bushels of potatoes in exchange for some pants I’m going to make him with the leftover wool from your cloak. Okay, we’re here! Tidy up a bit– your boot is unlaced. By the way, you’re going to be teaching me arithmetic as soon as you finish teaching those kids, so start studying!

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