Then Vs. Now: Step into a 1970 Classroom And Be Amazed by These Differences

It’s one of the most important things a parent considers when their child comes of age. School. Who is going to teach, nurture, guide your child into the future, and where are they going to do it?

Education Is Ever-Changing

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Education is ever-changing. Schools are continuously growing, with more openings yearly in the US.

The population is also increasing, a driving factor in the growth. And then there is technology, an asset that has altered the learning environment forever.

Suprising Facts About School

boy listening to teacher in class

We’ve come to accept what school looks like today, but 50 years ago, the reality was very different.

Take a walk down memory lane and prepare to be more than a little surprised at the changes.

1. Fewer Women Completed Full Schooling

girl graduating

In today’s society, it is common for women to be married around the age of 28.

Societal expectations regarding marriage were significantly different in 1970, as it was not unusual for a woman to be married around the age of 20.

1. Fewer Women Completed Full Schooling

thinking about college

Though the work environment was shifting, and more females were entering the workforce, tradition was that a woman should prepare for motherhood from an earlier age.

It was common for females to finish school shortly after becoming teenagers so that they could focus on learning ‘life skills’ that would assist them when they had their own homes.

2. School Discipline Was Rife

teacher scolding student 1

Corporal punishment was still in practice during the 1970s, though it was banned later in 1977.

If you had attended school 50 years ago, it is likely that if you misbehaved, you would have ended up with some sort of physical retribution. 

3. Changing Rules

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During the 70’s, most schools implemented a uniform policy and expected their students to present themselves nicely.

In high school, gym would be required a few times a week, during which, boys and girls were separated, as an act of appropriacy, though this would only be the case for another year or so.

3. Changing Rules

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Smoking was also allowed, according to one previous student, but only for high schoolers.

During the 1960s and continuing into the 1970s and 1980s, smoking was allowed in almost all public spaces. Smokers had the freedom to light up at their workplaces, hospitals, school buildings, bars, restaurants, and even on buses, trains, and planes.

4. Racial Segregation Existed

homeless

Though there was a movement to abolish education-based segregation, it was still a reality until the end of the decade.

To assist in the transition, courts issued orders that students take the bus across district lines so that black students and white students would be mixed in both schools.

4. Racial Segregation Existed

teacher helping students

Uproar ensued, as parents and politicians alike complained about the policy. There was rioting in Boston, however, the practice continued and eventually, education-based segregation came to an end.

5. Disabled Students Were Segregated Or Simply Not Taught

disabled student

Up until 1975, all disabled children were placed into separate classrooms, away from other children.

This included children who were deaf, blind, intellectually disabled, or even considered emotionally disturbed.

5. Disabled Students Were Segregated Or Simply Not Taught

man wokring in wheelchair

In 1970, only one in every five disabled children were provided with some kind of education.

In 1975, Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, to protect the rights and meet individual needs of youth with disabilities. The law was last re-authorized in 2004. 

Changes From 50 Years Ago

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For students during the 1970s, it was a landscape of possibility.

The Beatles disbanded. The first Boeing 747 commercial flight took off for London and the Apollo 13 launched.

Amidst it all, there were classrooms, lunch hours, bus trips, and homework. Not too dissimilar to today.

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To a child, parents’ rules and restrictions may seem arbitrary and controlling. While the occasional rule might be strict, hindsight usually reveals that—more often than not—a parent’s intuition was right.

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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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