School Curriculum 1862

For the most part as late as the 1860s, many of the teachers in the common schools did not, as yet, have a grammar (or high school) education or any professional training.[1] Oshawa seems to have been fortunate in obtaining teachers of the calibre of Mr. Lawder and Mr. Younghusband. It was about this time that grammar and geography were required to be added to the curriculum – grammar for “clear thought and accurate speech,” geography for “knowledge of the world.”

The following is the course of studies adopted by the common school and sanctioned by the board. This was printed in the “Vindicator” (newspaper) – November 19th 1862.

1st Grade

  1. To read and spell both words and sentences on the tablets.
  2. Multiplication tables to the end of five times.
  3. Making figures, counting and etc. Vocal.

2nd Grade

  1. Read and spell both words and sentences in the second book.
  2. Multiplication tables, time and money tables and arithmetic to the end of multiplication tables.
  3. Definitions of geography orally, continents of America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
  4. Writing on slates and vocal.

3rd Grade

  1. Reading, spelling and dictation from the third reader
  2. Tables and arithmetic to the end of compound rules.
  3. Geography – definitions and questions on the map of the world – Canada, America, Europe, Asia and Africa in Morse’s Geography.
  4. Lennie’s grammar to syntax thoroughly
  5. Writing – Vocal.

4th Grade

  1. Reading, spelling, roots, prefixes and affixes of the fourth reader.
  2. Spelling book – superseded
  3. Arithmetic – to the end of Sangster’s small arithmetic
  4. Definitions and outlines of Morse’s geography. Map geography.
  5. Lennie’s grammar to the end of syntax.
  6. Summary of English History.
  7. Writing. Vocal Music.

5th Grade

In addition to the above: ancient history, algebra, geometry, Mensuration[2] and natural philosophy.

I might add here, that the class of beginners, before grade one was called the “A.B.C” class. Children entered the school at the age of five.  They were put through the process of learning to read and spell simple words, to recognize figures and count.

            When the above curriculum was printed there were a total number of 291 scholars in the Central School.

            1st grade – 55

            2nd grade – 75

            3rd grade – 68

            4th grade – 44

            5th grade – 49


[1]  The first Normal (teacher training) School in Ontario opened in Toronto in 1847 however teachers were not required to attend. Axelrod, 40

[2] The study of measurement.

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