Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)


The rural teacher as housekeeper

Once a week---clean thoroughly the water container and cups---scrub and
scald (scald means the use of boiling---not warm---water, and plenty of it
to kill germs).

Once a month---a complete general cleaning of floor, walls, and

Have a good ordinary broom and a floor brush, if possible---sweeping
should be done at night and the dusting as early in the morning as

Use plenty of soft, hot water, soap and cleaning compound or powder.

Have a dusting committee---well-oiled dust-cloths of good size (a yard
square of soft cheesecloth is quite suitable), should be washed

These were some of the instructions given to rural teachers in British Columbia, Canada, around the mid-twentieth century. There is nothing wrong about cleaning the workplace in which a professional performs a job, but one wonders if during the same period similar instructions were also given to university professors, doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants or priests. Members of these male-dominated professions and occupations were probably regarded -and treated- in a different way than rural teachers. It is not too extravagant to venture that rural teachers experienced a double discrimination in relation to other professionals: they were mostly women, and they were working in rural areas.

For the complete list of housekeeping and cleaning instructions to rural teachers in British Columbia, please follow this link to The Homeroom:

The Homeroom is a website managed by Dr. Patrick Dunae at Malaspina University, and contains very valuable information about education in British Columbia. The homepage is


British Columbia Department of Education. Programme of Study for Elementary Schools, 1941, p. 22. Transcribed by Tracy Ollenberger and Brigitte Bjornson, History 349, Malaspina University-College, March 2001. Available at:
Accessed September 30, 2003. 


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