A Woman Preparing Bread and Butter for a Boy
Does your classroom have air conditioning and heating, good lighting, and maybe even a TV and a computer? Chances are it does, but this was not always the case.

Three hundred years ago, schools were dark and dreary places, with pot-bellied, wood-burning stoves that filled classrooms with smoke and harmful fumes. Students sat on hard wooden benches and had to copy long sentences into books with quills, or pens made from feathers, dipped in ink.

Children began school around the age of seven. The day started at six o'clock in the morning during the summer and continued until five o'clock in the afternoon. Since there was no electricity, students had to work by candlelight in the winter.

In this painting by Dutch artist Pieter De Hooch, a boy waits as his mother prepares a bread and butter sandwich for him to take to school. Boys then had long hair and wore outfits that looked like a dresses, with tights and a hat.

It's a good thing this boy didn't have to go far to get to school, because there were no buses back then. Look at the building that is just through the open door. The sign across the front says schole, an old form of the word school. Originally, this word came from the old Greek word skhole, which means leisure. It was thought that if you had leisure time, you would want to spend it learning.

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