Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School

Not a very effective way to get children to love school and enjoy math. But looks like it was an excellent method for teaching subversion, resilience and resistance to authority. Good work Miss Moran.

Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School

by Jane Kenyon

The others bent their heads and started in.
Confused, I asked my neighbor
to explain—a sturdy, bright-cheeked girl
who brought raw milk to school from her family’s
herd of Holsteins. Ann had a blue bookmark,
and on it Christ revealed his beating heart,
holding the flesh back with His wounded hand.
Ann understood division. . . .
Miss Moran sprang from her monumental desk
and led me roughly through the class
without a word. My shame was radical
as she propelled me past the cloakroom
to the furnace closet, where only the boys
were put, only the older ones at that.
The door swung briskly shut.
The warmth, the gloom, the smell
of sweeping compound clinging to the broom
soothed me. I found a bucket, turned it
upside down, and sat, hugging my knees.
I hummed a theme from Haydn that I knew
from my piano lessons. . . .
and hardened my heart against authority.
And then I heard her steps, her fingers
on the latch. She led me, blinking
and changed, back to the class.
Jane Kenyon, “Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School” from Collected Poems.

Manuel Domínguez “Niña en la Pizarra 1995

Edward Bawden, Life in an English Village 1949

A benign illustration for a not so benign poem – here’s an illustration from Edward Bawden (1903–1989). He drew these lithographs of his home village of Great Bardfield in Essex. Life in an English Village was published by King Penguin Books, in 1949.

Featured photograph: The Dot One-Room Schoolhouse by Madge Bloom

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