School Activities

classroom activities

Figure 1.--European classrooms until after World War II, like this German, classroom tended to be structured very formally and seem stark to modern eyes. This class portrait is undated, but looks like the late-1930s or early-40s.

The primary activity at school, of course, is classroom instruction. Even this, however, varies widely. This varied according to age group as approches varied, chronologically as teaching trends vary, by country. subject matter, and other factors. While it is the classroom that is the center of any school, a lot of activities occur at school beyond classroom instruction. It is probably in America that extra-curricular activities first becsme pronounced. The most important extra-curricular avtivity is probably sports, but most American high schools have extensive extra-curricular programs. English schools have given condiderable attention to sports, but this has been the private schools more than the public schools. They are now common in many other countries. American scghools, however still tend to have more extensive extra-curricular programs than is the case in Europe. French schools continue, for example, to have a findamentaly academic focus. Here we will focus on the many varied school activities. We will look at activities both in and outside of the classroom. HBC has archieved several thousand school images. Many of these images are portraits or class photographs. There are, however, also many images showing the children at school involved in a range of activities. We have worked on the school activities in several of the country school sections.

Specific Activities

There are two tyoes of school activities. First there were was the curriculum which was primarily, but not completely academic in character. The other type of activities were extr-curricular activities. The primary activity at school, of course, is classroom instruction. Even this, however, varies widely. This varied according to age group as approches varied, chronologically as teaching trends vary, by country. subject matter, and other factors. While it is the classroom that is the center of any school, a lot of activities occur at school beyond classroom instruction. One popular activity in the 19th century was drill which was part of the school program. There were also many extra-curricular activities. It is probably in America that extra-curricular activities first becsme pronounced. The most important extra-curricular avtivity is probably sports. We also see a range of other activities even in the early 20th century before extra-curricular activies had become pronounced outside of America. One such activity which used to be imporant were oratorical competitions, both recitations and speeches. This was not only a school activity, but schools were the most common place where oratory was practiced. A good example is an American boy in the 1890s, Roy Chapman Hodgson. Anoither popular activity is school theatricals. We note Norwegigan children involved in a class skit. Another popular activity was chess. Most American high schools had chess clubs. Chess was even more popular in Europe. I'm not sure, however, to what extent it became a school activity.

Country Trends

HBC has archived several thousand school images. Many of these images are portraits or class photographs. There are, however, also many images showing the children at school involved in a range of activities. Schools around the world have pursued prgramswith widely varied attitudes toward non-academic activities. And attitudes in each country toward these activities have varied over time. We have worked on the school activities in several of the country school sections. Most American high schools have extensive extra-curricular programs. English schools have given condiderable attention to sports, but this has been the private schools more than the public schools. They are now common in many other countries. American scghools, however still tend to have more extensive extra-curricular programs than is the case in Europe. French schools continue, for example, to have a fundamentaly academic focus.

Age Levels

The age and grade (form) lecel was another major factor affecting activities at scool, bith inside and outside the classroom.

Chronology

Chronological factors are a major factor affecting school activities. This also includes activities in and outside the classroom. In the classrom the principal change has proibably been a shift from a formalized structure of a teacgers desk facing student desks and benches all lined up neatly to a more fexibnle classromm organization. This has occurred to permit a wider range of classroom activity and more varied instructional approaches. Activitoies thst were once condideredc very important like drill have disappeared. And whjole new technologhires like the computer have begun to make a major impsact on classroom instruction.








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Created: October 2, 2000
Last updated: 11:02 PM 12/10/2008