There are differences among countries in the use of school book bags, although ther have also been many similarities and shared trends. The more sinificant variations, however, have been over time. We do not yet have any information on Austrian bookbags, but believe that they were similar to German styles. Belgian book bags seem to have been quite similar to French trends. English boys have often had book bags. This has been especially true of day boys at private schools. Boarders did not need book bags to take their books back and forth to school from home. French boys wore over the shoulder book bags as in Germany before World War I, but hand carried satchels after the War. Some modern researchers now believe that the weight and size of book bags pose risks to health. Available images of German children show that bookbags were also widely used by German children. They appear to have been the standard style worn over the back. Hungary until 1918 was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thus German influences have been significant. Hungarian boys in the 1960s often had portfolio-style bookbags. No information on Italy yet, but we believe that books bags were commonly worn by Italian school boys. Japanese school children going and coming to school with book bags on their backs has long a traditional sight. Japanese teachers are strong believers in the importance of homework. And parents insist on the children doing their homework. Scottish boys have have used bookbags much like English boys. The continental over-the-shoulder type of book bag used by European boys does not seem to have been common in Scotland. Boys at private schools in the 1980s had porfolio type bags, but these were less common at state schools. Many American schools still incourage the children to bring book bags to school. Modern reserchers in America also have health concerns.
We see South African students with book bags. We are not sure how common this was. We do not have much information on school trends before World War II, but we do not see any Black children with school book bags. We believe that sone White children had them, but we do not yet have much information. Before that, education was primarily for whites and to a lesser extent colored (Kaapse Kleurlings) meaning mixed race children. Black education was sorely neglated. Since the end of Apartheid, this has cganged an increasing attention has been given to Black education. schools are mow available for all children. Many low income childre, especially black children have to walk substanial distances walked to school every day. And many low income families afford book bags their own bag to carry their books and homework back and forth. We notice charity groups providing book bags to the children. We note a company (Repurpose) that has created a stylish and sturdy all-purpose backpack out of 100 percent recycled material from old plastic bags. The children with the longest walk tend to come from homes that are off the electic grid, amking it difficult for thm to do their home work. Many of these himes have kersone lamps which are both dangrous and do mot produce a lot of light. Particularly notable on some of the Repurpose back packs is a small solar panel that's capable of charging up from the sun's energy while they walk back and forth to school every day. As a result, when they arrive back home, the bag is capable of powering a small lamp for up to 12 hours so that they can complete their studies at night. Repurpose works with no-fee public schools schools that lack many basic supplies, as well as ‘giving partners’ who are willing to fund the creation and delivery of the backpacks. The idea is to make the trip to school easier for disadvantaged children and at the same time extending their study time into the evenings, boosting their education in the process.
Many American schools still incourage the children to bring book bags to school. One school suggests that "A book bag is the easiest way to be prepared for class. In it you will keep the items you need like: pens, pencils, notebook, assignment pad, personal reading material, textbooks, folders, and a calculator." Some students keep other supplies like paper clips, a ruler, whiteout, colored pencils and tape. The school tells students that they "... should be careful to keep the bag organized and cleaned out--and make a habit of checking it regularly." The school also warns, "Students should NOT carry ALL their books around all day, however, as that could put a strain on backs and shoulders. It is recommended that students make frequent trips to their lockers to drop off heavy books." Most American schools have lockers for the students, especially secondary schools. This is much less common in many other countries.
Japanese school children going and coming to school with book bags on their backs has long a traditional sight. Japanese teachers are strong believers in the importance of homework. And parents insist on the children doing their homework. Almost all Japanese elementry school boys and girls carry bookbags ("randoseru") on their backs. In private school, where the administration is often more conservative, the color is almost always black. (In some schools, the bookbags are dark brown.) In public school, boys generally have black randoseru and girls have red randoseru. In recent years, a variey colors have appeared, but most boys/girls still have black/red randoseru. They seem to be quite large, suggesting that the boys, even in elementary school, have quite a large amount of homework.
We do not yet have any information on Austrian bookbags, but believe that they were similar to German styles.
We do not yet have any information on Belgian bookbags, but believe that they were similar to France styles.
English boys have often had book bags. This has been especially true of day boys at private schools. Boarders did not need book bags to take their books back and forth to school from home. I have liitle information on English book bags at this time. The over the shoulder type so popular on the continent seems to have been less common in England. There were two basic types of English school book bags. Some boys wore both a single strap-style satchel. One HBC contributor indicates that this style was typical of the ones commonly worn at grammar schools (academically selective secondary schools) in the 1950s and 60s. Others boys wore the rucksack style with the two over the shoulder straps. With the two shoulder, it was worn in the middle of the back. And what was irritating was, the Jewish boys all seemed to be given briefcases for their Bar Mitzvahs (initiation into manhood, shortly after the 12th birthday), whereas the rest of us had to carry on with our satchels (which were far from worn out, of course) for a good while longer.
An account of a French school boy's life in the 1890s recalls the consideration at home concerning a school bag: "There was much discussion at home over the choice of a sack for Paul's books. (Like all his
school-mates, he had to carry home his books every night.) Paul preferred the kind of sack that you hung over one shoulder by a strap and carried under the arm. But his mother objected; the boy would grow all one-sided, with one shoulder higher than the other. A military sack strapped on the back was preferable. When packed with care it would oblige its wearer to stand straight. That opinion carried the day. Paul was provided with a soldier's sack of black and white calfskin of the finest effect. He also had a black lacquer box for his pens, with a Japanese landscape painted on the lid. Perhaps it was a bit too fancy for so severe a school, but if any one objected he had only to say it was a gift. Paul felt very important and grown up to have so many new things all his own. A reader and a history book full of pictures and famous phrases in black letters of kings and great captains. A geography with maps of all colors and France and its possessions standing out very big and tinted a vivid rose pink. And so many copybooks--for spelling and arithmetic and geography and composition and penmanship and dictations. Quite a heavy load for a boy of 7 to carry back and forth in the handsome calf-skin sack." Least you think Paul's parents in the 1890s unreasonable, consider some current research. Some researchers now believe that the weight and size of book bags pose
Available images of German children show that bookbags were also widely used by German children. They appear to have been the standard style worn iover the back. I'm not sure when they were first worn. They were worn extensively by primary school children through the 1930s. Many available images show German boys going to school dressed in sailor suits with these over-the-shoulder book bags. We do not yet know if there were any special styles or features to the bookbags worn by German boys.They appear to be mostly leather book bags. I do not know if they were made from other materials.
Hungary until 1918 was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thus German influences have been significant. Hungarian boys in the 1960s often had portfolio-style bookbags. Nany boys seem to have had similar book bags. I do not think that the styles were required by the schools,
but may have reflected the limited availability of comsumer products in Eastern European Communist countries.
No information on Italy yet, but we believe that books bags were commonly worn by Italian school boys. I believe, however, tht they were common.
Scottish boys have have used bookbags much like English boys. The continental over-the-shoulder type of book bag used by European boys does not seem to have been common in Scotland. Boys at pribvate schools in the 1980s had porfolio type bags, but these were less common at state schools. I'm not sure what type of book bags boys had in earlier times.
The majority of the Swiss population are ethnic Germans and tied intoi the Getrman cultural sphere. The Swiss education system in particular is srronly influenced by German trends. Traditionally many Swiss have attended German universities and German professors teach in Swiss universities. Einstein was one such individual. One of the items where this connectin is particulary visible with younger children is the school satchell We see children in Switzerland and Germany with the same style satchells. We are, however, not sure yet about Swiss school children in the French speaking cantons. Thgey tended to dress somewhat differently than in the German speaking cantons. We note these traditioinal leather satchels through the 1950s into the 60s. The styles seem precisely like those we have noted in Germany with the children wearing them on their back. And we notice different styles for boys and girls.
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