“Check Outhouses Daily” The Retro Teacher Rules You Have to See to Believe

The teaching profession has come a long way.

Retro School Rules That Make Us LOL

One read through these retro school rules, and you’ll be eternally grateful you’re a modern-day teacher who doesn’t have to clean chimneys.

1886 Rules for Teachers

1. Check the outhouses daily.

‘Nuff said. Yuck.

2. Women are forbidden to wear a bathing costume in public at all times.

With rules like this, it makes swimming in anything besides a bathtub pretty impossible.

3. Men are forbidden to wear shirt sleeves unlinked and rolled.

Guess they’ll be sweating it out with the ladies, because showing some forearm is way not okay.

4. Cause for immediate dismissal includes frequenting the pool.

Not that it matters, since a visit to the pool required swimming in a dress.



1872 Rules for Teachers

1. Bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.

Imagine having to haul all that in with your Starbucks every morning, and trying to stay clean and dry in the process. Sheesh!

2. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

Yes, that’s right you had to make the pens, and it has to be to your students’ specifications! Of course, this is on top of hauling coal and water!

3. After 10 hours in the school, the teacher may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

Thank you for permission to have such a jolly good time after work and for reading no less! Some teachers may still spend 10 hours a day at school, but at least they can do (almost) whatever they want afterwards.

4. Any (male) teacher who gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.

Wow. Who knew this was a big deal back in the day? Hope each guy was a pro with a straight razor.


1915 Rules for Teachers

1. You may not loiter downtown in ice cream stores.

Because we all know the kind of trouble teachers get into after a few scoops of the good stuff…it’s a rocky road for sure. (wink, wink.)

2. You may not dress in bright colors.

Hope you really like shades of drab, cause it’s all you’re allowed to wear.

3. You must scrub the floor with hot soapy water and start a fire by 7 a.m.

This is a whole new interpretation of morning prep time before the students arrive.

4. You must wear two petticoats.

This is so you can be extra hot and sweaty while scrubbing the floor and tending to the fire.


1923 Rules for Teachers

1. The teacher’s contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher marries.

Better not love educating the youth of America and another person, or you’ve got a hard choice to make.

2. The teacher’s contract becomes null and void if the teacher is found drinking beer, wine or whiskey.

If this rules were still in effect today, the teacher employment rate might go down.

3. The teacher’s contract becomes null and void if the teacher leaves town at any time without the permission of the Board of Trustees.

See? Aren’t you feeling so good about being a 21st century teacher? Now check out what the students had to deal with…


1872 Student Rules

1. Never make noises.

Never. Ever. Not even a peep. If you make noises, then you’re surely up to no good.

2. Be silent.

They were really serious about being quiet, so don’t even think about it.

3. Wash your hands, face and feet if they are bare.

That shoeless kid probably had to walk all the way to school, too.

4. Bring firewood in.

Kids today grumble about hauling their backpacks into class, but imagine if an armful of wood was required, too?


Victorian Rules for Students

1. Farmers and other persons possessing property are to pay for their children. When they write on paper, sixpence per week. When they write on slates, only fourpence per week.

And if they use an iPad or a tablet, it’s a fortune.

2. Girls in particular must be neat and without any finery.

This kinda makes you want to want to find all the Victorian girls and tell them to splash in mud puddles and wear feather boas to class.


1959 Rules for Students

1. No sideburns.

Can anyone think of a good reason for no sideburns?

2. No tight low-waisted blue jeans will be allowed.

There goes half the wardrobe for most 21st century learners, and don’t even talk about leggings.

3. The wearing of unwieldy crinolines if discouraged.

Good call. Crinolines would make it pretty tough to play at recess and run around during gym class, that is, if girls were allowed to do such things.


1960 Rules for Married Students

Not much needs to be said here, but there are a lot of bizarre that rules on marriage and there were even rules for the married student like “All married students will be excluded from extra curricular activities.” Another rule was, “Students who marry during the school year shall be automatically suspended for two weeks.” 


1990s Rules for Students

1. Pajamas, flannels and sweat pants that look like pajamas are NOT allowed.

This is all well and good, but who decides what does and doesn’t look like pajamas?

2. Clothing that constitutes a health threat to self or others are not permitted.

How times have changed, as the only clothing requirements are basically not pajamas or stuff that hurts or offends people.

Today’s teachers undoubtedly deal with a whole new set of challenges, but at least they’re allowed to get ice cream. And on the upside, they don’t have to swim fully clothed or whittle pencils at home or haul coal.

Did we miss any of your favorite retro school rules? Come share in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook.

P.S. You might also like these totally relatable teacher fails and principal horror stories