School in the 50’s-60’s

My elementary school was three stories.  The floors were wood and were oiled to keep the dust down. It definitely was a fire trap.

Until I was in eighth grade my school contained classes from grades 1-12

The teachers wrote on chalk boards and it was an honor to be the student who got to go outside and dust the erasers on the old oak tree.

The school now is all on one floor.  The floors are tile with a few rugs the teachers have bought themselves.

Elementary schools now are pre-school to 5th grade.  Middle school 6-8th grades and high school 9-12 grades


Now teachers write on white boards with dry erase markers or smart boards with electronic pens.

Our school was heated by a coal furnace which produced steam heat.  We had no air conditioning.

Going into second grade was exciting because you began learning to write in cursive like grown-ups.

In first grade we learned how to count and write our numbers to 100.

Many schools today have geothermal heating and air conditioning.  In some schools you can’t even open the windows.

Now many educators see no need to teach cursive writing since everyone has access to computers.

Presently most first graders come in already knowing how to count and write to 100.

They are taught to add, subtract, and much more.

Fourth graders had to memorize the multiplication facts.

Fifth graders started on fractions.

Algebra was introduced as a freshman, and geometry as a sophomore.

Today both fourth and fifth graders can use calculators to do multiplication problems and they were introduced to fractions in kindergarten.

Kids in elementary school are introduced to simple Algebra and geometry terms.

The only extra curricular activities for girls were cheerleading, FHA, or Glee Club. No girls sports except high school track after the consolidation of the 3 high schools.

There were no African-Americans in my elementary school.  Segregation was still enforced.  In seventh grade one Hispanic family moved to town.  In ninth grade integration started and there were African-Americans in my high school.  A few students from Cuba were enrolled, too.

In reference to discipline the teacher and principal were always in the right.  The paddle was used.  For most students if they got a paddling at school, they got a whipping when they got home.  Writing lines was also a form of punishment. Class sizes were larger and no teachers had instructional assistants.  In fact the principal didn’t even have a secretary.  The smart girls in the school got to help him out during their study halls.



Now days girls can play basketball, softball, volleyball, track, and tennis.



Today in our schools we have a more diverse population.  It is common to share a classroom with African-Americans, Hispanic, and Asian students.


Now teachers use behavior charts and give awards for good behavior.  No paddling allowed.  The only punishment used in elementary schools is to walk laps for getting your clip moved down. Many don’t respect the schools’  authority,  and many parents blame the teacher for their child’s bad behavior or grades.

Since the consolidation of the high schools the principals have had secretaries.

If you lived within a 1/2 mile of the school you walked to school.  No parents walked with the kids and no crossing guards.  Most others rode the school bus.  Parents very seldom drove their kids to school.  Most mothers were stay-at-home moms, didn’t have an extra car, or couldn’t drive.

It was a big deal if a policeman showed up at school.  High school kids could smoke cigarettes out behind the school.  No other drugs were ever heard of in elementary or high school.  Boys brought knives to school and I don’t ever remember anyone getting stabbed or shot. No sex education until high school.

Old reel projector

In elementary school we only had books , paper and pencils, and a chalkboard.    When in high school  a new teacher sometimes showed old reel type movies in history class.  Other than that I don’t remember any kind of media used in the classroom.  I never remember working in a group in grade school.  I do remember a  group project  for a history class and working with a partner  in biology when dissecting animals.

Very seldom do you see a child walking to school.  The bus picks you up right in front of your house and when you get off waits until you get into the house.  Lots of parents drop their kids off at the front door of the school and pick them up.  There are after school day cares to care for the children of moms who work outside of the home.

Students, teachers, and parents aren’t allowed to smoke on school grounds.  We have in school policemen.  There have been many school shootings reported throughout the nation.   Sex and drug education is part of the curriculum.

Presently teachers use the smart board to write or teach in all educational areas.  The chrome books are a huge part of a student’s education.   Use of the internet has caused the use of encyclopedias  to be a thing of the past.   Group work is common  in classrooms today.


In the 50’s and  60’s special needs children didn’t go to public schools.  Blind and deaf students went to their own schools(KSB & KSD).  ksd ksb_editedSeriously handicapped students just didn’t go to school.    I think this changed about 1963.

Each day the teachers chose 2 students to say prayers and read from the bible daily during the noon announcements when I was in elementary schools. prayer                                But now prayer has to be initiated by the students.

From 3-8th grade students were allowed to walk home for lunch or walk downtown to a local restaurant.  Some piano students even walked to their piano instructors house for their piano lessons during school hours.  There was no supervision during these times.   Before consolidation  the entire school had recess at about the same time.  Yes, from high schoolers to first graders would be out on the playground.

Teachers just taught what was in the text book.  Individual work was done.  No group learning was done in elementary schools.  We had very few academic group sessons in high school.  There was nothing such as common core then.  Standardized tests were given, but they were not published by the media.   Much less stress was put on teachers and students to raise scores.

In my opinion the school systems do a better job now in most areas, but there are a few things that were better in the 50’s and 60’s.  I’ll let you be your own judge on what is better and what is not.  I’m open for comments about what you think is better or worse now.

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