A group of school children are practicing brushing their teeth. The photo was taken at Franklin School, in Chicago, around 1910.
This drill was part of a public health initiative to improve the health of children.
One of the things that stands out for me when I look at this picture is the lack of anything related to children’s lives or to play.When you go into any elementary school in these days you will see student’s projects, bright colours, pictures and drawings all over the walls. Here the school likes a penitentiary. We can’t tell what colour the walls were painted, but the rough brick work and the complete lack of anything that would personalize the space and make it inviting is unmistakable.
We can tell from this photograph just how different educational philosophy was, a mere 100 years ago. For the most part the children were regarded as little adults who needed to be bullied and cowed into obeying and learning by rote. It looks like a prison because it many ways schools were prisons.