Saturday, June 15, 2013

Schools Then and Now

When I was a kid back in the 1940s and 50s the California schools were known to be the best in the United States.

Grammar school went from Kindergarten through Eighth Grade, although Kindergarten wasn't required and due to the unexpected influx of kids from the post- World War Two baby boom, some children weren't able to attend Kindergarten. Some first grade classes were held in nearby churches, libraries, or other public buildings and might have as many as 42 students. Lots of new schools and classrooms were built during that time.

Once adequate classrooms were available we normally had 32 students in each classroom.

The only homework we had before High School was studying for a test or completing something we hadn't finished in class. We had two ten minute recesses in the morning, an hour free for lunch, and PE in the afternoon. As well as the academic subjects, our classroom teachers taught PE, art, and music. Every classroom had a piano and being able to play it was a credential requirement.

The schools provided all the books, paper, pencils, etc. students needed.

Of course girls always wore dresses or skirts to school.

Once a week a group of mothers would come in and prepare a hot lunch, usually hot dogs, which kids could buy for a small amount of money. Otherwise we all brought our own lunches in tin lunch boxes or paper bags and, if the weather permitted, we ate outside in the schoolyard.

Children behaved well in school most of the time. We sat quietly and seldom talked in class without raising a hand and being called on by the teacher. If kids didn't follow the rules they'd be kept in at recess or after school and required to write the same sentences about proper behavior many times. California schools did not allow corporal punishment, but if a kid misbehaved so badly that parents were contacted they would usually spank their child at home.

The same text books were used for years, so the schools didn't have to keep buying new ones. Of course there was less history, a lot of scientific discoveries hadn't been made yet, and only basic arithmetic was taught in grade school. But what we did need to learn, we learned well.

I wonder if a child from the 1950s and one from today were to time-travel and take each others' places in school which one would do best. They'd both certainly have a lot of adjusting to do.


Rena Jones said...

I went to school in the 70s, and some things were similar to what you described earlier. Clothing changed, as did punishment and how kids behaved. A lot of the other stuff was the same. I think it would be VERY hard for kids to trade places now. We rely so much on electronics and social media. I, personally, loved it when it was more simple. :)

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks, Rena.