Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lutheran School Teachers in the 20s

by Connie Cortright 

With the release of "Guide Me Home" in the next week, I'm going to print my "Author's Note" that is in the beginning of my book. Since my novel takes place in 1926, there is a definite historical background that needs to be understood before the book is read. In my blog post this week, I'm taking the time to do a bit of explaining for everyone not familiar with the lingo and traditions of Lutheran culture.

So here is a tidbit in Lutheran history...

Guide Me Home is the story of a Lutheran parochial school teacher in the Roaring Twenties. In Wisconsin and the Midwest at this time in addition to public schools, Roman Catholic parishes and Lutheran parishes commonly operated elementary schools for their respective church’s children.
Our heroine, Miss Emma Ehlke, is not a “Lutheran nun,” but a young, single woman who was trained for her profession in a teacher’s college run by her Lutheran denomination. Her training was similar to the normal school colleges, which trained public school teachers, but she was also taught to teach religion to her students.
New teachers like Emma were assigned to teach at a Lutheran grade school upon graduation from college. Typically, a school board chosen from among the men of the congregation governed Lutheran schools. The Lutheran school was an endeavor that involved the entire congregation.
Since virtually all the children attending Emma’s school were from the congregation’s families, Emma would be expected to hold devotions, teach Bible stories, and also hymnody. Older students would receive instruction in Martin Luther’s Small Catechism by the pastor in preparation for reception into the congregation as young, “confirmed” adults. New adult converts to Lutheranism also had to study the doctrines of their new faith by the same method.
In the story, Pastor Hannemann lives in a “parsonage,” a supplied home situated next to the church. Married male teachers usually lived in “teacherages” owned by the congregation. Young, unmarried teachers like Emma were usually boarded with a church family.

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