“We accept and thank you for this wonderful building…The citizens of Davie will take pride in it, maintain it, and cherish it. ” (Colonel Walsh at the official dedication of the Davie School, May 10, 1918)
As I approach the end of the year holiday season once again, it’s time for me to reassess my writing “peaks and valleys” of 2022. For in spite of escalating time challenges, I remain passionately committed to experience the present moment of travel in such blog efforts from both near and afar. Thus in furtherance of this task, I’ve made a timely purchase of the book, “100 Things To Do In Fort Lauderdale Before You Die” by Christiana Lilly. Know then that I fully intend to schedule more time to explore many of these locally inviting places from this guidebook between our road trips and other longer vacations in South Florida starting today and throughout those home based months next year.
So I begin this series by welcoming you to the pioneer days of my current hometown of Davie, Florida at the Old Davie School. Follow me then on a photographic classroom tour at this historic site now recognized as Broward County, Florida’s oldest school and you might imagine what it felt like to be a student or teacher long ago. In particular, I invite you to ponder how instructors and pupils made best use of their time under adverse conditions in this rural community institution designed to serve a maximum of ninety students and three teachers of primarily Caucasian descent at full capacity.
When I first entered this relatively roomy classroom, my eyes immediately turned to items most familiar to me from my own student past. Such items included the long, dusty blackboard at the front of the room, a convenient alphabet strip across the side walls and of course those creaky wooden desks I recall fidgeting in profusely as a kid. I then examined some old textbooks tightly stacked in the back of the classroom, curiously analyzing how the basic concepts of reading, writing, and arithmetic appeared to be most prominently taught. Notable observations were also made at this time about a plentiful supply of dated fiction books, fold out maps and World Encyclopedia volumes along these shelves that fostered student learning attention back then above and beyond such essential learning subjects. Turning to the matter of student/teacher relations, I reasoned that the orderly arrangement of those wooden classroom desks, and the prominent placement of a cowbell on the teacher desk figured prominently in maintaining order in the classroom. I also found matters of parent- teacher communication interesting at the Old Davie School, as I curiously glanced at the use of a detailed number system once used on student report cards.
So let’s bring to life a more modern version of my brief tour of the Old Davie School. For in such consideration of past vs. present pertaining to education in this blog today, how might one effectively address those who complain now that we must return to the “good old days” of strict moral teaching, “rule by the rod” and/or stressing a tight focus on teaching only the “basics” to restore quality education in our schools. One way to frame these thoughts more clearly involves the extent to which paying attention to the the paper and pencil era at the Old Davie School in past rural times remains relevant to the more digitized urban complexities of teaching and learning today. You might also try to envision how today’s students and teachers could successfully adapt to other challenging conditions that took place then such as working in uncomfortably hot and humid conditions in South Florida without air conditioning. As for me, I’m just glad that I discovered some resourceful ways to survive those challenging times of teaching for over thirty years that you got a strong taste of in this blog today.