Monday, September 6, 2021

1944's "Decorations for the Schoolroom"

American kids have been returning to school during the past few weeks, and more will return after this Labor Day weekend. The first days of a new school year can be so exciting; we all have cherished memories of what those days felt like, and of all the people who worked hard to make them special.

So it's heartbreaking to think of all the contemporary schoolchildren who've had similar moments dampened or erased because of the ongoing pandemic. Many missed out on the classroom buzz about the start of summer adventures during the last day of school in the spring of 2020 (which seems like a million years ago, right?). There were the long weeks of necessarily remote instruction during the 2020-21 school year. And now the 2021-22 school year has begun under the black clouds of the delta variant and the anti-science parents and politicians who are trying to bully school boards into mask-optional policies.

But kids are resilient. Past generations have attended school during numerous unsettling or nerve-wracking moments in U.S. history: World War II, for example.1 Today's ephemera is a staplebound book that was published in 1944, during that war, and is designed for teachers seeking ideas for the classroom.

I didn't do a full series of "back to school" posts this year, so these peeks inside that 1944 book will have to suffice. But there's a ton of stuff in the Papergreat archives. A good starting point if you're interested in School Days Nostalgia is this directory that I last updated in 2015. Or, if Scholastic Books are your jam, there's a whole subcategory for that. 
1. Or during the Cold War, when the threat of atomic or nuclear annihilation hung over our nation and our schoolchildren, who were instructed in perfectly useless "duck and cover" drills. I recently watched the excellent 1963 film Ladybug Ladybug, which offers a harrowing look how the threat of a war that could instantly wipe out millions of lives affected the psyches of students, teachers and parents. Without spoiling anything, I'll say you'll never forget this movie's ending. 

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