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Going to School During the Civil War: The…

Going to School During the Civil War: The Confederacy (Going to School in…

by Kerry A. Graves

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This book is based on the young children living through the Civil War in the South. It was very informative and quite an eye-opener. The book focused on both the young white students and the children of slavery who were going to secret school. At the end of the book is a glossary and internet sources and places to visit. The illustrations in the book were pictures. In the beginning of the book is where readers can find the photo credits. This is a good book to read to students however, I don't think I would have time to read it to my students. ( )
  jpons | Nov 16, 2014 |
Interesting and informative. Provides a summarized history of educational practices in the South during and after the Civil War, as well as a general historical background of the time. ( )
  epenton | Jan 26, 2014 |
The nonfiction book entitled Going to School during the Civil War: The Confederacy by Kerry A. Graves is an interesting book that ties both good writing and history together by allowing the reader to move smoothly through the text while learning facts about how education was carried out in the south during a time when brother fought against brother in America. This 30 page book is geared toward young readers between the ages of 9 and 11, in my opinion, but is insightful enough that adults may also benefit from the information provided.

In summary, the author discusses how different the economies in the north and south were in the middle of the 19th century in which factories dominated the northern states and agriculture was the primary economic source in the southern states. Because of the latter’s reliance on profitable crops that were exported to Europe, as well as the north, large plantations were created in which the owners depended upon large quantities of laborers in their fields with most plantations having African-American slaves doing the work. Some plantation owners allowed their slaves to go to schools that claimed to only teach them a trade which could help on the plantation, but abolitionists and even freed slaves who often taught at these schools actually instructed the slaves as to how to read and write which was illegal in the south.

While many wealthy, white plantation owners hired tutors or private teachers to educate their children on the plantation, some chose to send their children off to academies, military schools, or boarding schools. Many middle-class and poorer whites, however, either taught their children at home in the evenings or sent them to one-room school houses that were built where one teacher would be available to teacher these children. During the war, however, many young boys quit school and joined the military as bugle boys and drummer boys and because most of the battles were fought in the south, many schools often closed for long periods of time.

Boys and girls were also educated separately with each gender learning different skills and acquiring knowledge that was socially dictated as to what was important for boys and girls to know during this time in history. Both learned basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, but boys later learned more advanced math, science, and business skills while girls were taught how to sew, sing, dance, and play music.

Most of the books that were used in the south were deeply influenced by confederacy politics. Some of these were called The Confederate First Reader, The Confederate Spelling Book, The Dixie Primer, and The First Dixie Reader. When the south lost the war, the union then published new books for the south which embraced northern political beliefs.

When the slaves were freed, it then became necessary to educate them to be productive in society. The union created The Freedmen’s Bureau which established African-American schools for former slaves. The curriculum, however, did not cover college preparatory or advanced studies. Instead, freed slaves studied agriculture, cooking, sewing, carpentry, and other labor skills. African-Americans did not receive an education equal to that of white children until the 1960’s.

Graves presents Going to School during the Civil War: The Confederacy in a way that demonstrates accuracy by using historical facts to support her story, has a decent amount of scope, depth, and focus, uses a clear style of language to communicate to the reader, organized the book in a topical, story narrative format, uses wonderful photographs and illustrations to help the reader connect to the text, and offers many reference aids and access features, such as a captivating cover, Table of Contents, map, side bars of additional information, recipes for tea and candle-making, a glossary of unfamiliar words, suggested readings, Internet sites, and places to visit, and a helpful index to find a particular topic quickly within the book.

The only factor that I would like to point out is that the author discussed a great deal of information about the effects of the Civil War on southern society in general more than what could have been explained in terms of the schools in the south during this time. Although an adequate amount of material was presented about how children were educated in the south during the war, a more in-depth study would have been more enlightening, beneficial, and supportive of the book’s title, in my opinion.

As a future middle school English teacher, I would recommend this book to my students, especially if they were assigned the task of writing a research paper on schools in the north and south during the Civil War. Small groups working together to create a Power Point or Presi presentation with more distinct photographs would also be an additional activity that I would request in an effort to make the subject matter more interesting. ( )
  cdaugher | Apr 23, 2013 |
Also: the Union, 1876, Civil Rights Movement, and others in the series
  aadkins | Jul 22, 2011 |
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Discusses the school life of Confederate children during the Civil War, including school lessons, Confederate books, military academies, and life during battles.

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