Back to School …in 1915

It’s August, summer is winding down, and students across Ontario are getting ready to go back to school. This month in the glass display table, check out some of the books and supplies a pupil in the junior grade of Form IV (today’s grade 7) would have needed for the 1915-1916 school year!

Certain books, such as The Ontario Public School Speller (1914) and Ontario Public School Arithmetic (1910), were required for all pupils, regardless of what Form they were in. These textbooks contained the material taught in every Form and pupils would use the same textbooks through their entire public school year. These textbooks were divided into chapters according to the Form in which the material would be covered. Starting in Form III, pupils also needed a copy of The Ontario Public School Composition (1910). All pupils were also required to have the Ontario Writing Course (1909) and blank Ontario Copy Books (1908), both of which were used to teach good penmanship.

Pupils were also expected to have their Form’s reader – for our Form IV pupil, this would be The Ontario Readers Fourth Book (1909). The readers contained selections of prose and poetry to be used for reading practice, which included reading aloud. The Form IV reader contained works and excerpts from writers such as Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Pupils in Form IV would also use The Golden Rule Books: Book IV (1915), a reader used for moral instruction in schools. Unlike the other books used by Form IV pupils, however, the Golden Rule Books were not required textbooks and copies were provided by the school.

Pupils in Form IV and Form V were required to have several additional textbooks: Ontario Public School Grammar (1910), Ontario School Geography (1910), The Ontario Public School History of England (1912), The Ontario Public School History of Canada (1910), and The Ontario Public School Hygiene (1910). Although students in earlier Forms would still have studied these subjects, these textbooks were only authorized for use in Forms IV and V. Younger pupils would instead be given supplementary reading made available by the school.

Unlike schools today, where students are assigned textbooks to use for the year, pupils in the early 1900s were expected to purchase their own textbooks. For a Form IV pupil, the full set of required textbooks would have cost $2.16 – about $45 in 2017 dollars. Other supplies such as equipment and reagents for science class, musical instruments and songbooks, and art supplies were provided by the school for use during class time.

Additional items in the display table come from our small artefact collection: a slate (used to practise writing and arithmetic), a dip pen, and a box akin to a pencil case (used for storing pens and spare nibs).

These books and artefacts will be on display in the glass table on the ground floor of the OISE Library through the end of August.

Welcome back, OISE students!

About Cassidy Foxcroft

TALint (Toronto Academic Libraries Intern) at the OISE Library | Master of Information (LIS & ARM), 2018 | University of Toronto
This entry was posted in Historical Collection, Seasonal Display, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *