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March 30th 1773

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The three R's

Teaching in the village schools in the 18th Century was still fairly rudimentary with the main emphasis being placed on the ability to read and recite the Catechism. A minority learned to write and the elements of arithmetic. But even at this time gifted pupils were encouraged to continue their studies and most of the schoolmasters were prepared to teach them outwith school hours. This account of a visitation by the Presbytery of Dunkeld to Kinloch Rannoch school is probably pretty typical.

“The Rev. Mr Macara of Fortingall was chosen as preses, and opened the meeting with prayer. Particular enquiry was made concerning the faithfulness, diligence and success of Mr Archd. Campbell, the master. He was found to be faithful and diligent, and particularly that he teaches no Latin in his school. He teaches reading, writing and arithmetic. Total number 63, of whom 18 were absent, for whom excuses were sustained. Some were sick, others had gone to the Low Country.

A few small books were thought necessary for the poor scholars. On enquiry the schoolmaster had no grievances, nor had the people any, and the schoolmaster and scholars having been suitably exhorted, the preses concluded the meeting with prayer.” 
From the Forfeited Estates Papers.

From the 49 boys at the school, 15 were learning the ABC and 16 were writing. Ten girls were on the ABC but none were writing. All children were learning the Catechism.

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