Here it is already, the beginning of August. To me that means fall is coming, the changing of the leaves, the cooler temperatures, and the holiday season. For our kids, it means back to school. It seems to come earlier every year. Our county, Lanier, started last Friday, August 3rd. This got me to thinking about how much things have changed from the 50’s –when my folks where in school, the 70’s and 80’s, which was my high school era, and today. What a difference a few decades can make.
The 1950’s were such a different time when it came to education. In my mother’s case, she had one sister and two brothers. They didn’t have a “supply list” to purchase before starting school. She said they usually got a new writing tablet and some number two pencils. And maybe new shoes, if they needed them. Otherwise, that was it. They didn’t get any help with school supplies and the only thing they got for free was maybe vaccinations from the Health Department.
The first day of class they were given their books and expected to cover them and take good care of them, so that they could be used again the following year. They used brown paper bags, from the local grocery store, to cover them. When they got a writing assignment, they used typewriters, did research at the library, and read books to get information. They took classes in Home Economics, Art, Music, and Wood Shop. There was usually a bell to signify the beginning and end of classes. Most teens lived within walking distance of school and their friends. There were not many gangs or bullies back then.
In the late 1970’s and 80’s, things were similar, but there were some changes beginning to take place in the high schools and our supply list had changed, along with our curriculum and policies. We were required to have a spiral notebook with dividers for each subject. Along with the customary number two pencils, we were asked to have a blue or black ink pen for writing assignments. I had a typing class, and yes, we still used typewriters. We had home economics class, which I enjoyed. I’ll never forget making “homemade” donuts with canned biscuits. And sprinkling them with powdered sugar. We thought we were really cooking. I think I remember making spaghetti one time too. We had a co-ed class with guys and girls. Although I think the guys just signed up so they could eat the food and flirt with the girls they liked! We had clubs like F.B.L.A—Future Business Leaders of America, the Drama Club, the Key Club, and F.F.A.—Future Farmers of America, just to name a few. We weren’t allowed to leave campus for lunch. If you got caught, you usually got time in I.S.S—in school suspension.
Fast forward to today. Teens these days have a very long supply list. I recently read a post on FaceBook with some mothers complaining. They said the lists were way too long and included things like earbuds this year. This is so the kids have their own personal set to use when listening to things on the computer at school. We now have a lot of programs sponsored by local churches and other organizations supplying backpacks filled with school supplies, so that less fortunate students can start off the school year with what they need. In Lakeland, we will have a Community Day Event at the high school gym on September 28, 2018 from 9 to 11 a.m.
Students these days have so many advantages that we didn’t have. I think computers are probably the most important new technology. They can ‘google’ any topic they need information on and within a matter of minutes, they can type up a report, edit and print it out. No need for the hand-written assignments anymore. Plus it’s easier for the teacher because they don’t have to decipher students hand writing.
I recently heard they are considering doing away with teaching cursive writing in the Elementary Schools altogether. This saddens me. It’s just one more thing that I grew up with that is no longer taught. I think cursive writing is an important thing and part of our culture. It was a milestone for me in my early education to learn writing in cursive and to become good at it.
With each new school year, more and more changes come. Our children have so many more advantages when it comes to their education, but also have more demands on their time, at a younger age. It just a shame that they won’t get to experience the school traditions we shared; saying the pledge of Allegiance, praying before lunch or before ball games, and using the library for research. But, and perhaps as a trade off, they do enjoy a more enriching curriculum that includes Art, Music, and American History.
Perhaps change is not always a bad thing.