Special Report

22 Ways School Has Changed Since You Were a Student

The 2020/2021 academic year is nothing like any student, parent, or even grandparent has ever experienced. Before self-isolation, remote learning, mask wearing, and temperature checks at the door became normal, students’ biggest concerns were much more familiar — often related to their studies, social activities, and sports.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the typical school day in ways that children, teachers, and parents are still adapting to, many students still have a lot of choices and opportunities related to their academic course, sports, and social interactions. But it wasn’t always this way. School in the past looked a lot different.

24/7 Tempo has taken this opportunity to examine what school days used to look like. We reviewed materials from archival resources such as the New England Historical Society, media sources, and the National Center for Education Statistics to compile our list.

Education and its role in society have been matters of debate and discussion. That may be the only similarity between schools of today and schools of the past. Technology has revolutionized learning, though today there is concern about the digital divide and the lack of access to technology for students in poorer districts, which has been deepened by the COVID-19 outbreak — these are the school districts in every state where students are most likely to succeed.

There is some debate about the merits of homework, which in the past could occupy a full evening. And there is concern that students are overscheduled with activities such as sports and clubs and are pressured to complete homework in a timely manner. Remote learning will probably change that as well.

One of the biggest differences in schools today versus the past is security. Schools have almost become mini-fortresses, with sophisticated locking mechanisms, security cameras, and security personnel. School districts employ these prevention methods to avert the kind of mass shootings that occurred at Columbine High School in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. But not all schools are set up that way. And security is just one factor in identifying a good school. Here is the best public high school in every state.

Click here to read about what school days used to look like.

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