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31 > Page 31 of Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky mountains : a study in anthropogeography / by Ellen Churchill Semple.

The Anglo-Saropis of the Kentucky Motuntains The district school of the Kentucky mountains is, in general, a rough log-cabin more or less crudely equipped according to the sparsity or density of the surrounding population. Some are entirely without desks, rude, uncomfortable benches of rough mountain manufacture taking their places. We saw no maps, and instead of blackboards, the unplaned planks of the inside of the walls had been stained a dark color for a space of 12 feet. In some of the back districts, where hardware is at a premium, the children are summoned from recess by a big wooden rattle. If the physical equipment of the school is primitive, the mental is almost as crude. The standard of education for the teachers is not high. Some of them have not progressed farther than the multiplication table in arithmetic, and all use ungrammatical English. Their preparation for teaching in general consists of the course of instruction at the district school and a few months' training at the so-called normal school of the county-seat. At a recent meeting of the Teachers' Institute in one of the mountain counties, when the subject up for discussion was "Devotional exercises in schools," it transpired that, of the fifty-six public school teachers present, only one in eight knew the Lord's prayer, a majority did not know what it was or where it came from, a majority did not own a Testament, and only two or three were the proud possessors of a Bible. Such ignorance is pitiable, but pitiable chiefly because it means lack of opportunity. Many of such teachers are half-grown boys and girls, who are in this way trying to earn the money, always so scarce in the moun- tains, "to go down to the settlements" and get an education. When their desire for knowledge is once aroused, they are strong, per- sistent, and ready to face any obstacle to get an education. Their vigorous minds, unjaded nerves, and hardened bodies combine to make them victors in the struggle. One boy of fourteen started out from his hillside home with his little bundle of clothes siting over his shoulder and 75 cents in his pocket, and tramped 25 miles over rough mountain trails to Berea, where the nearest school and college were. While taking the course there, he supported himself by regular jobs of various kinds, and maintained an excellent stand- ing in his classes. When a mountain lad comes down to the State University at Lexington, it is a foregone conclusion that he is going to carry off the honors. We find at work in him the same forces that give success to the youth from the Swiss Alps and the glens of the Scotch Highlands, when these too come down into the plains to enter the fierce struggle for existence there. For the Kentucky 3 1