It was pretty hard for teachers during the pandemic, but imagine what teaching was like back in the late 1800s.
Author and history buff Doug Saxon knows this well. He's just released a book, titled Dora Creek Memories, to mark Dora Creek Public School's 150th anniversary.
"Teaching would have been extremely difficult. There was no training provided and very few resources, including classroom furniture," Doug said.
"The Dora Creek school furniture was made by the residents."
Doug recounted that the district inspector said in 1881: "The furniture in this school is totally unsuitable. The desks being high, clumsy and ill-shaped and the forms equally defective".
Come to think of it, the desks and chairs we used to have in school weren't exactly ergonomically designed. Wonder what they're like nowadays?
As well as dodgy desks, he said teachers faced income troubles.
"The teacher's salary was based on average attendance and wages were cut if the average fell. This often happened at Dora Creek, as older children were often kept at home to work on the farms," Doug said.
The first teacher of the school was John Douglass.
"In 1865, Douglass bought a 40-acre free selection at Dora Creek and opened a shop. In 1870, he agreed to open the first school at Dora Creek in a room in his house in Coorumbung Road," Doug said.
He also ran the Dora Creek post office and was heavily involved in community affairs.
"Although Douglass provided the school room, he did not receive any rent for its use. Part of the teacher's salary was supposed to come from fees paid by the students, but many did not pay."
To make ends meet, Douglass cultivated a garden and sold the produce.
As for his personal life, he married twice and had 10 children.
His son Horace was killed at Lone Pine in Gallipoli in 1915. His body was never found.
Douglass was 77 and his wife Julia was 58 when Horace was killed.
It was not the first time that John Douglass had experienced family tragedy. His first wife Ellen died from pyaemia [blood poisoning] in November 1881. Douglass also lost two of his daughters with Ellen - Louisa died in 1904 and Annie in 1912.
The anniversary of the Dora Creek school fell last year. It was supposed to be marked with a celebration, but COVID put paid to that.
Doug was asked to write the book to celebrate the occasion.
He said Dora Creek was an interesting place to write about.
"I tried to link the school history with the area's history," he said.
"I enjoyed interviewing former students."
One of these former students, Bill Johnson, sponsored the book. All proceeds from the book - which costs $20 - go to Dora Creek P&C Association. The book is available at Dora Creek Public School.
Don't Say Cheese
When we first saw this photo, we were struck by the fact that none of the kids were smiling.
Was life really that miserable for them? Maybe. We did, however, learn that smiling in photos didn't become a thing until the 1920s.
So, was smiling in photos somehow frowned upon before the '20s? Maybe. Way back in the day, big cheesy grins were apparently associated with madness, drunkenness and immature behaviour.
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