School Then Vs School Now

School Then Vs School Now – Can you imagine any of the following stories taking place in an elementary, junior high, or high school now? I’m not writing this School Then Vs School Now to make a point about the schools. I don’t yearn for the “good old days” or necessarily think that helicopter parents and lawsuits have made it better now. It’s just funny to look back and laugh at how far we’ve progressed (or regressed).


When my generation was in elementary school we used to hear tales of woe from our parents and teachers. We’d be slack-jawed as we heard about nuns with agendas (and sharp rulers), rampant paddling, and ridiculous dress codes. Now we pass the torch (and some of the now funny horror stories) to our kids. I’ve talked to a lot of friends and relatives lately and decided to compile my favorite stories so far.

School Then Vs School Now

School Then Vs School Now – EYES WIDE OPEN / MOUTH TAPED SHUT – My sister was in second grade, she was seated with her four classmates in their group of desks and was talking with the others instead of working. A crime? No. But the teacher wasn’t having it. The teacher, without warning, singled her out and decided to punish her for talking by taping her mouth shut with masking tape and making her work like that for the rest of the school day. BONUS – My husband remembers a kid being frequently physically tied to his chair for constantly getting up in class. We’re talking physically tied to a chair with a shoelace.

School Then Vs School Now – LAWSUIT? WHAT LAWSUIT? – When my husband was in 5th grade his elementary school had a class recess that somehow went completely unsupervised. A majority of his 5th grade class at his school congregated near the soccer field. Someone decided it would be a great idea to shimmy up the soccer goal and hang from the crossbar. Eventually there were nearly 20 kids hanging from the crossbar and it finally gave away and the whole thing collapsed. Miraculously, no one was hurt. When he returned to class the entire 5th grade class was summoned to the gym. The normally amiable principal closed the doors to the gym and berated the 5th grade for 2 hours demanding to know whose idea it was to climb the pole. He threatened and swore at the kids the entire time trying to extract info from them like something out of Guantanamo Bay! Nowadays, that school would be facing a lawsuit for the unsupervised recess and the principal would have been fired!

School Then Vs School Now – NUDE SWIM CLASS – My friend Don grew up in Detroit in the 1960s and was forced to take high school swim class. No big deal, right? Wrong! Back then some public schools in Michigan forced the kids to swim NUDE. His reasoning was that back then the schools had metal lockers that rusted from the pool water so school administration just thought it would be better to have the entire class swim naked. He’s a bit older than us so that makes it more feasible, yet I still can’t believe it. And, every time I tell someone this story, I’m accused of being a liar. But, our friend swears by it. So, if I were handing out prizes here, this one definitely takes first place!

School Then Vs School Now – THE PADDLE – Corporal punishment wasn’t common when I was in elementary school but the threat was always there that, if the crime was serious enough, the principal could spank or paddle you. How do I know? Our principal actually had a big ‘ole paddle hanging in his office with notches on it and holes drilled in it. I’m guessing the holes were to cut back on wind resistance from backswing to fanny but I was never in trouble enough to where I ever had to find out.

School Then Vs School Now – SMOKING PATIOS – AP Trig got you all stressed out? No problem, just head out to THE DESIGNATED SMOKING PATIO and fire up a Marlboro! Every high school back in Metro Detroit back then had designated areas where kids could smoke. It was common to see kids head to the smoking patio or smoking terrace after the bell rang and hotbox a cigarette in the 5 minutes they had before they had to get to their next class. Hard to imagine that happening today at Rochester Adams or Birmingham Seaholm.

School Then Vs School Now – COMBATIVE SPORTS – My husband’s high school had a Phys Ed class option called Combative Sports in addition to Team Sports (baseball, football, basketball, dodgeball), Weight Training (stretching and weight lifting) or Individual Sports (tennis, badminton, archery). In Combative Sports you learned boxing, wrestling, Karate and self-defense. The kids used to actually duke it out on mats & in a boxing ring during class for a grade! The practice ended in the late 80s thanks to bullies, broken noses, and black eyes. Wasn’t gym class dodgeball bad enough?

I’ve heard from others that yes, indeed there was nude swimming in Metro Detroit High Schools in the generation previous to mine. I’m glad I was born too late for that one.

Have any good School Then Vs School now stories?

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.