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The Lyons Farm schoolhouse shows us what education was like in the 18th century

The Lyons Farm schoolhouse, pictured above, is in the Newark Museum garden.
The Lyons Farm schoolhouse, pictured above, is in the Newark Museum garden.
Lucy Santos

Next month children will be going back to school. In today’s modern world, most youngsters will be entering classrooms that have the latest technology such as computers and laptops. Since there were no technological advances in the past, students relied more on memory and imagination to learn. It was a time when most people were farmers who lived off the land. After school, children did chores that included working on the farm. Since there was no television, families spent more quality time together. For entertainment, folks would tell stories by the fireplace, play musical instruments, dance, read, write and engage in other activities.

In the 18th century, some children from Newark, New Jersey attended the Lyons Farm schoolhouse, a one room brick schoolhouse that was open from 1782 to 1784. If you watched the show, “Little House on the Prairie,” you saw a schoolhouse very similar to the Lyons Farm schoolhouse. It was a charming school like the one Laura attended on the family show. It was a place where the blackboard was used and students wrote on their slates. Pupils learned by memorization and then analyzed what they learned using their creativity and imagination. Since many youngsters worked on the farm, they were close to nature. What nature taught them helped them learn as well. Since there were only a few pupils in the class, the teacher knew the students better. Without distractions such as cell phones and electronic games, students of the past were able to concentrate more on their lessons.

The Lyons Farm schoolhouse, a historic landmark, stands today at the Newark Museum garden and is very well preserved. It is one of the few one room schoolhouses that still exist in the United States. If you read a plaque outside the Lyons Farm schoolhouse, you will learn that George Washington visited the schoolhouse. Can you imagine how excited the children must have been? Washington probably motivated the students to learn when he visited the schoolhouse.

At the Newark Museum garden, there is a quiet ambiance where the Lyons Farm schoolhouse stands. The children who attended this one room schoolhouse lived in a world where only human voices and the sounds of nature were heard. It was a simpler time.