What School Days Used to Look Like

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6. Less support staff

A notable change in school nowadays compared with the past is the number of support staff. Besides an increase in administration personnel such as vice or assistant principals, schools now employ health services staff such as social workers, psychologists, and speech therapists, as well as security personnel.

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7. Fewer activities

There have always been activities for students in school — debate clubs, theater, yearbook, band, color guard, and language clubs. Those activities are alive and well, but today there is so much more for students. A big difference today is the addition of activities geared toward community service such as food drives, involvement in Special Olympics, and peer counseling. Heritage or cultural clubs pertaining to ethnicity or sexual orientation can also be found in schools today.

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8. Fewer sports, especially for girls

Ice hockey and soccer were rarely played in schools and have climbed in interest in the last generation. Ice hockey is primarily played in affluent suburbs. But the biggest difference now vs. then has been the explosion in girls sports. Following the passage of Title IX in 1972, which mandated participation equity between the genders for schools receiving federal assistance, the number of girls participating in sports has mushroomed. According to the website womenssportsfoundation.org, before Title IX, one in 27 girls played sports. Today, that ratio is two in five.

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9. Homework

There was no debate about homework in the past. Oftentimes, students would get three or four hours of it a night. Today, the merits of homework are under scrutiny. Skeptics say there is little to be gained if the student doesn’t understand the material in school and struggles with it at home, requiring help from parents and others. Also, they doubt homework contributes to academic achievement. Students are also busy with activities outside of school — sports, music lessons, theater, martial arts — that strain their schedule. Proponents of homework contend it promotes good study habits and gives parents a better understanding of what their child is learning in school.

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10. Libraries were not media centers

The pace of technological change has altered the traditional role of libraries. Once the repository of books and printed resource material, school libraries are now designed as complex media centers, information hubs equipped with data and wireless access points, ergonomically friendly chairs and desks, acoustically appealing spaces, different lighting areas, and of course computer stations. As of 2016, the total number of public school librarians/media specialists, full and part time, has risen 8.8% since 2007.