Then and Now

by Lara Krupicka

These days we marvel at the technological innovations being used in the classroom. And indeed, with so many new devices available, our kids’ experiences at school are beginning to look quite different from our own. But beyond technology there are other differences too. Here are 10 things you probably had in school that your child may not:

Overhead projectors and filmstrips

Remember those? Most of us jumped at the chance to be the one to manually move the strip forward at the sound of the tone. And we all wished we could be the one writing with squeaky markers on the overhead sheets. Plus, who among us didn’t try at least once to sneak a quick nap in the darkened classroom? Now computers have taken the place of many of the old audio-visual devices. PowerPoint presentations, digital projectors and videos do the job in our kids’ classrooms.

PB&J sandwiches

With the prevalence of nut allergies and the severity of risks, many schools now ban any peanut or tree nut products within their walls. This means no more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for hungry kids (although alternatives, such as sunflower seed spread are beginning to fill the gap).

Chalkboards

Some classrooms still have one, but most aren’t used for writing anymore. Instead, dry-erase boards and computerized SMART boards (interactive white boards) take that role. No more staying after to help clap erasers for our kids!

Mimeographed papers

Remember that smell? The days of duplicating via mimeograph machine are a thing of the past. Now teachers use photocopiers and printers for printing multiple copies for classes.

Tag at recess

You heard that right. Some schools have placed restrictions on any contact games during the school day (except in gym) due to the risk of injury.

Lunch money

With the advent of scanners, schools have been phasing in the use of swipe cards to pay for school lunches. Parents send a check or go online to load the cards. Then students use the card to buy lunch. No more chances of stolen or lost coins on the way to school.

Typewriters

OK, so none of us used these in elementary school. But not only are students no longer using typewriters, they’re also being taught the skill of “keyboarding” (formerly known as typing) at younger and younger ages. With computer labs in the majority of schools, kids now have time set aside each week for learning both typing skills and how to use common computer programs.

Unlocked doors

Gone are the days when you could walk right into an elementary school. Because of the potential for violence, many schools have installed security systems that require being buzzed into the building. Along with these measures have come “lock-down drills” where students and teachers practice what to do in the event that school security is breached. 

Birthday treats

No more bringing in smiley-face cookies to celebrate a child’s special day. In an effort to do their part in the battle against childhood obesity, schools have begun forbidding treats aside from sanctioned school celebrations. This means no homemade cupcakes or even store-bought doughnuts. And in some cases, teachers are no longer allowed to use sweets or food as incentives.

Fluoride rinse

Some states still conduct regular fluoride rinse programs in schools. Others have ceased their programs. With municipalities adding fluoride to their water supplies, the need isn’t as great. But schools still take dental health seriously. In a quarter of the states, laws require proof of a dental exam for school admission.