First Day of School: Then and Now

On the first day of school families across the country are getting ready for a new school year.  The first day of school likely brings back memories for all of us. There is no question that the first day of school was somewhat different for seniors in Canada fifty years ago than it is for youth today.  However, despite the differences there are also similar feelings of excitement, anticipation and sometimes anxiety that hold true for children no matter the generation to which they belong.

First Day of School: Then and Now

My grandparents grew up in a small village called Parrsboro, nestled along Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy. The first day of school for them meant hiking miles to a one room school house where children from all along the Bay made their way to learn the basics of reading, writing and math. During winters this was a very cold walk, and the school house was fuelled by a wood stove that kept everyone comfortable inside.

When it came to education, my grandmother attended school only when she wasn't busy taking care of one of her twelve younger siblings.  My grandfather was present only when he wasn't busy working and helping his parents make money to support his siblings. Neither of them earned a high school education, but neither did most of their peers.

Life Lessons Outside of the Classroom

Although school was considered important, the most important lessons that my grandparents learned came from their own parents and grandparents.  Lifelong lessons about how to feed a family, cook and bake, sew, grow your own food, work the land, fish, judge the ebb of the tides.  These were the lessons which my grandparents learned outside of the classroom that helped them, and many other Canadian families, survive throughout the year.

As we prepare our children for a new school year, in an age of academic knowledge where a college or university education is now mandatory in order to secure a successful job it is important to look back and consider these differences. As we look towards an exciting new school year filled with learning, books and knowledge we shouldn't forget the important knowledge and life lessons that are learned from our elders outside of the classroom and have been passed down from one generation of Canadians to another.

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What important life lessons have you learned from your parents or grandparents? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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