I began teaching in a public high school 1968. From my perspective, the basics have not changed: classrooms, teacher, students, books, paper. After those items, little is the same. From the dress code to technology and everything in between, things are different. I am basing my experiences on two schools because my husband taught in a different high school in the same town.
Taking one thing at a time--the dress code for both teachers and students has completely changed. The women teachers could not wear anything but dresses, skirts and blouses, hose, and high heels. The men had to wear ties and dress shirts and pants. No pants or certainly no jeans for anyone. The female students also wore the same as the teachers, except for the shoes. The big question was the length of the skirt. Mini-skirts were popular---and the principals loved to measure the girls' skirts. In addition, the boys would be sent home for outlandish hair cuts--no mohawks or shaved heads or facial hair of any sort. This did not begin to change until the early 1970s. This is from the 1965 High School Handbook:
The popular clothing fashion for high school girls is clean, simple dresses, or blouses and skirts and bobbysoxer. Many girls wear flats to make their outfit look dressier.
The boys usually wear clean blue jeans, cords, peggers, and comfortable tee shirts or sports shirts. The most important thing is cleanliness. It doesn’t matter how simple your outfit is, if it is clean.
The high school student usually wears his school clothes to most of the school games and parties, unless otherwise specified.
Discipline was certainly different. Capital punishment was still in vogue. The principals had the paddle where the students could see it. In the lower grades, each teacher had his/her own paddle. This practice did not end until the late 1970s.
In my state, the teacher's pay was less than poor in my beginning year. My first salary as a full time high school speech and English teacher was $4,000 per year. The salaries did not begin to grow until the mid 1970s, and then still very slowly. You were paid about $400 per year more if you had a masters degree.
In 1968, there was one blackline mimeograph machine for the teachers to use that made a mess on your hands and clothes. Other than a 35 mm reel to reel film machine with 1950s movies, there was no other technology. The teacher used the blackboard, the textbooks, a teacher edition if there was one, and her creativeness. Seldom did the classroom come with a set of dictionarys or any other kind of reference books.
There were no spring breaks when I first started teaching. That practice did not come into the schools until sometime in the mid 1970s. The last semester of school was so long without any breaks other than may be day at Easter.
Parents were less involved in the classrooms. Overall, I believe that parents respected and trusted teachers' opinions more than they do today. That comes from a lot of conferences during my tenure as a counselor during the last ten years that I taught.
Students' were more innocent about adult things probably due to the television, movies, and technology in general. That is not to say that students were drinking beer, partying, and making out. It seemed to be a less dangerous time.
The course work in the public school has advanced. The kinesthetic aspect of teaching, certainly in the lower grades, has made a big difference for slower achievers. Students' certainly know a lot more; however, I think that they are more easily distracted and have to be more entertained than in the past.
One last area, the students' home lives are more unstable than in the past. Of course, there have always been some single parent homes, but nothing as in the lives' of children today. That makes a big difference in the educational system.
When I stopped teaching in 2010, my classroom looked quite different than the one in 1968.
- 2010's Classroom: computer, printer, video machine, white board, dictionaries, thesauruses, classroom telephone, intercom. Yes, education has changed.
Technology In Education: Past And Present
The history of higher post-secondary learning is a long, interesting, and fruitful one. Universities date back close to a thousand years and has been seen grow, expand, and now become a center for the future of every nation. The fast increasing pace that technology has education and technology has been closely linked and now have their future, success, and fate are carefully intertwined. Because of technology we’re now seeing education finally moving away from the traditional setting and expanding without much restriction.
The word University comes from Latin word meaning “a whole”. Universities were largely established to educate the clergy but because of demand of the merchant class to develop skills in reading, writing, and mathematics the curriculum was amplified. Student and masters were influenced by other industries and, following societies example, created guilds of their own. The guilds created a standard that anyone who wanted to become a teacher was required to do six years of liberal arts studies. Most universities followed this example and added other requirements such as the University of Paris requiring a future teacher to be 20 years old at least. The statues also read “[sic] is to promise what he will lecture for at least two years.” Theology was still the champion at universities and pretty much dictated the school curriculum and student life. Becoming a Theology teacher also had a stricter set of requirements they had to achieve before being accepted such as at least 35 years of age and 8 years of further education. Universities in Europe were very popular for example, University of Paris by 1250 had about 7,000 students and Oxford University had 2,000 students. Oxfords numbers are even more remarkable considering it was in a small city.
It is astounding to see that in modern university under normal settings we have yet to diverge from medieval university teaching techniques. Just like today students in medieval times would sit and take notes on a professor’s lecture usually on wax tablets, or parchments but very rarely paper since it was so expensive. After the professor was done lecturing he would open up the classroom for discussion or questions from students. Debates between professors were another tool used to supplement lectures. Since the debates were about theology they were called disputations and were set in a Q and A format. A committee of master or a single master would give the student an oral test after three or four years in school. This could be comparable to how in the present times for example how a math department gets together and creates test for every class taking the same course. This would entitle him to become a baccalaureus which is essentially receiving a bachelor’s degree which will then allow him to become a teacher’s assistant, but he still needed to do 3 more years of studying and take more written exams to become a master himself at a university.
Colonial universities were much of the same...
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