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Surprising Truth About Education: 50 Years Ago and Now

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Education today is entering a spectacular and exciting stage. Technology truly took it to a brand new level. Today kids of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy the process of studying thanks to technologies like virtual and augmented reality, online courses, etc.

You no longer have to get outside and get to a physical classroom to obtain a degree: thanks to the easy access to e-learning, students can now get a degree from the comfort of their homes.

However, only some 50 years ago, education was completely different. And we are not saying it was ‘bad’ different, but rather simply different.

Let’s take a look at what schools used to look like when our grandparents were young and full of dreams.

The number of high school diplomas

Only some 30 years ago, the US was among the leading countries when it came to the number and quality of high school diplomas. However, according to the Do Something organisation, today the US is only in 36th place.  What happened? And why do we see such a decline in numbers?  Modern schools experience many problems with bullying, discrimination, and other issues that cause young people to drop out without ever getting a high school diploma. This is a huge issue that a country should solve on the governmental level. But the truth is that the number of students obtaining a degree at this level is decreasing year after year.

Students respected teachers more

We know how the youth treats teachers these days. Lack of proper bringing up or whatever other reasons for this might be, but they all lead to a significant decrease in respect toward teachers among students. Our generation believes that everyone owes them something. Even when simply collecting information for US history essay topics, we can find tons of examples when young people 50 years ago respected teachers, never doubted their opinion or complained to their parents about them. In fact, the Bored Teachers states that years ago 79 per cent of students showed respect toward their teachers compared to 31 per cent today. The same source also mentions that modern parents are more likely to trust their children rather than tutors. This only deepens the gap between the younger and older generations at schools.

No more instructions

Or at least less of them in students’ curriculum. The thing is that education years ago was presented in a way of direct instruction. However, the efficiency of this approach was seriously doubted by many prominent scholars.  And gradually schools switched from direct instructions to various methodologies. Was the instructional approach effective? Probably for that generation, that was not yet tired of all the information noise young people get these days. But as time flies, we need to adjust our approach too.

No uniforms

One of the first things that pop up in your head when you think about changes in education 50 years ago and now is that students no longer have to wear uniforms. They have all the freedom they want in their self-representation.  But some 50 years ago schools wanted all the kids to be equal when inside the classroom. To prevent distraction and possible discrimination inside the classroom, they decided to have special uniforms for every school.  Was it a good decision? It depends, but at least there was no gap between those who could afford great clothes and those who could not.

Women used to be less educated than men

Statistics show that 50 years ago around 13% of all men had a degree compared to 8% of women. This situation was true until 2014 when finally, more women got higher education than men. Women fighting for their rights and equality got a right to enter higher educational establishments along with men. And as a result, more and more women have become the supervisors of big corporations around the world.

Religion was a part of daily life at schools

Christianity as the religion of the majority in the US 50 years ago was a part of daily school life. The day would start with a prayer, and students read their Bibles. It is no longer true for most schools. They have all taken religion out of the classroom and have restrictions about it everywhere. The government is so scared of discrimination of any kind, that they forbid everything related to religion on campuses. However, teaching children about religion, even in a non-religious school setting, can be done through everyday activities. Parents can provide books from their religious tradition for children to read and discuss. Prayers shared over meals and positive mantras for their day can also provide an opportunity for further discussion about faith. For example, free vacation bible school programs are available in many communities that provide structured learning with free material as well as free or reduced-cost snacks. Activities like these lend themselves to conversations where parents can talk with their children about the link between actions and beliefs.

As you see, education is no longer as it was 50 years ago. Social, economic, and other changes that took place in our country influenced education as well. So, we’re only left wondering what it will look like after another 50 years.


Kevin Nelson is a professional educator and a private tutor with over eight years of experience. He is also a content writer for various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media, and blogging.

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