Reading, Writing and ‘Rithmetic — Columbian Exposition Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin

Today, the Columbian Exposition Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers when the New York public schools planned to provide exhibits for display at Chicago.

The City Superintendent provided the “rules” the displays by grade.

It is interesting to look at the requirements, to wonder at the ages of the students in each class and their overall capabilities, and to think about how they compare to today’s classes.

From Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City and County of New York, published in 1894:

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At the next meeting, December 7th, the Special Committee reported the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved, That the City Superintendent of Schools be and he hereby is instructed to take the necessary steps to prepare for an exhibit of the work of the schools at the Chicago Exposition; and that the Board of Estimate and Apportionment be applied to for an appropriation of eight thousand dollars for the purpose.

It may be said here that the bill for the appropriation was not passed by the Legislature at its session in 1893; but in anticipation of its passage the Principals of the Grammar and Primary Schools were assembled to meet the City Superintendent, to receive information as to the lines on which the work for the exhibit was to be prepared.

At the beginning of January, 1893, the following circular was issued: City Superintendent’s Office, New York, January 3, 1893.

To the Principals of the Grammar and the Primary Schools:

In order to facilitate and guide the preparation of the school exhibit designed for the Columbian Exposition, this circular is issued at this time.

The amount of space to be occupied by the schools of New York City has not been determined, but the general regulations governing the forms for presenting work have been announced by the proper authorities.

The circular is intended (A) to express the general rules which are to determine the character of the work presented, (B) to indicate the kind of work that can readily be shown in the several grades, and (C) to state more specifically the official directions as to the form, size, etc., which have been determined upon by the General Director of the Educational Exhibit.

An exhibit of the work of each pupil in the several studies pursued would occupy more than the entire space to be allotted to the State of New York. Hence, it will be unnecessary and unadvisable to present from any one school a complete display of methods and results.

A. — General Rules.

(a) Every specimen exhibited should be labeled with the name and age of the pupil, the grade of the class, and the date at which the work was accomplished. This information should be written by the pupil, if he is able to write.

(b) No school should display work that was done prior to September 12, 1892.

(c) Homework of the pupils should not be made a part of the exhibit.

(d) Special work by individual pupils, done in school in addition to their regular class-work should not be displayed unless it is strictly in accordance with the established course of study.

(e) The work of an entire class should be displayed rather than that of individual pupils, but in cases where pupils have not been admitted into a class until sometime after its formation their work may properly be excluded from the collections.

(f) Each teacher whose class presents work for exhibition must certify that the work was done in school under the direction of the teacher, and without assistance to the pupils.

B. — Work that may be shown readily.

Note. — The following suggestions are based upon the general course of study. These suggestions apply in most respects to the Manual-Training Schools also, but those schools should comply strictly with their own course of study.

Primary — Sixth Grade.

Writing with pencil or pen. Spelling.
Drawing and stick-laying. Color.
Number — Writing numbers. Adding single columns.
For Manual-Training Schools — Clay — Sphere and cube.

Fifth Grade.

Writing with pencil or pen. Spelling.
Drawing and stick-laying. Color.
Number — Writing numbers. Adding single columns. Subtracting. Multiplying. Roman numbers.
Manual-Training Schools — Clay — Cylinder, prism and hemisphere.

Fourth Grade.

Writing with pen or pencil. Spelling.
Drawing — Color. Cutting. Arranging groups of circular tablets.
Arithmetic — Writing numbers. Adding single columns. Subtracting. Multiplying. Dividing. Roman numbers.
Manual-Training Schools — Clay — Triangular prisms; rhomb; rhomboid; triangles.

Third Grade.

Writing with pen. Spelling. Sentence-building.
Drawing — Color. Arranging groups of tablets. Cutting.
Arithmetic — Writing numbers. Adding several columns. Subtracting. Multiplying. Dividing. Roman numbers.
Sewing by the girls.
Manual-Training Schools — Clay — Cone, pyramids, etc.

Second Grade. Writing with pen. Spelling. Compositions. Sentence-building.
Drawing — Color. Arranging ornamental groups of tablets. Cutting.
Arithmetic — Writing numbers. Addition, subtraction and multiplication. Dividing. Roman numbers. Tables of measure.
Sewing by the girls.
Manual-Training Schools — Clay — Ellipsoid, ovoid, vase, etc.

First Grade.

Writing with pen. Spelling. Compositions. Sentence-building
Drawing — Color. Arranging tablets. Cutting.
Arithmetic — Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Tables of measure.
History — By brief written accounts.
Geography — By brief written accounts, and by maps.
Sewing by the girls.
Manual-Training Schools — Clay. According to grade.

Grammar — Eighth, Seventh and Sixth Grades.

Penmanship. Compositions. Sentence-building. Spelling.
Drawing — Free-hand. According to grade.
Drawing — Mechanical. According to grade. Folding and cutting.
Arithmetic — According to grade. Tables of measure.
Geography — Memory maps. (May locate races of men, animals, minerals, vegetable products, etc.) Brief written accounts.
History — Memory maps. Brief written accounts.
Oral Lessons — Brief written accounts, with samples, pictures, or other illustrations.
Music.
Manual-Training Schools. Modeling. Sewing by the girls.

Fifth and Fourth Grades.

Penmanship — As before.
Drawing — Free-hand. According to grade.
Drawing — Mechanical. According to grade.
Arithmetic — According to grade.
Geography — As before.
History — As before.
Oral Lessons — Brief written accounts.
English Grammar — Illustrative exercises.
Music.
Manual-Training Schools — Modeling. Shop-work by the boys. Sewing by the girls.

Third Grade.

All as in Grades 5 and 4, except that the written work in Oral Lessons will admit of illustration more readily than that of Grades 5 and 4.
Manual-Training Schools — Modeling. Shop-work by the boys. Cooking by the girls. Written work.

Second Grade.

Same as Grade 3, except that the Geography is to be omitted and Book-keeping is to be added.
Manual-Training Schools — Same as Grade 3.

First Grade.

Same as Grade 2, except that History is to be omitted and Geometry is to be added.
Manual-Training Schools — Same as Grade 3, except that cooking is to be omitted.
German and French — Written exercises corresponding with grade of class.

C. — Methods of Showing Work.

“The exhibit will be displayed by means of wall charts, wing frames, cabinets, show-cases, tables and shelves for holding models, albums, portfolios, specimen work, etc.”

Written work, except copy-books. — The size for the Primary and Grammar work should be 8 by 10 inches.

Drawing.— The size for the Primary work should be 8 by 10 inches. For Grammar work, drawings to be on 8 by 10 paper, except as follows: Larger maps or other drawings for wing frames or special portfolios may be on paper of the following sizes: 22 by 28 inches, 14 by 22 inches and 11 by 14 inches.

Cards to be placed in wing frames are 22 by 28 inches, hence the dimensions given above.

Pictures and photographs for albums should be of cabinet size, or else 8 by 10 inches; for wing frames they should be of the dimensions of the larger maps.

Single drawings, and maps or groups of the same, framed to hang on the wall, may be exhibited.

More detailed suggestions and regulations will be found in the circular issued by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Very respectfully, John Jasper, City Superintendent.

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The Columbian Exposition Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an artist’s image of a New York public school’s students participating in calisthenics, circa late 1800s.

Columbian Exposition Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin

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