Ms. Smith rolls out the AV cart to show the class a fantastic black-and-white movie in the final hour of the school day. Mr. Johnson presents a cursive lesson with the help of a bright overhead projector. Ms. Jackie stores all her files in a Trapper Keeper and frequently retreats to the crank pencil sharpener affixed to the wall. Do you recall any of these school staples?
1. Library Check Out Cards
Your school likely had a library (my high school, unfortunately, remodeled ours into a media lab and shipped all our physical books off to an island), but the existence of physical library cards has vanished. These were thick pieces of cardboard inserted into pockets at the back of books to detail who checked out the novel and the due date. Computers log this information today.
Do you know how to read cursive? A small portion of Gen Z understands script, but the majority ogles it as a different language. You can't blame them, though, as the public school system eradicated cursive education in 2010, with the uptick in type and computer usage.
3. Crank Pencil Sharpeners
Considering that several schools don't ask students to complete assignments on physical paper, rather laptops or tablets, why would they need a pencil sharpener? When a school does resort to old-timey usage of paper, many students opt for mechanical pencils or pens.
4. Trapper Keeper
A trapper keeper does exactly that – it traps and keeps anything you could imagine. These days, teachers and students file their documents online or in smaller files.
Dodgeball — or an escape for bullies to target victims, at least in the media — faded out of the physical education system. Some teachers banned the sport, believing it would cause a rise in violence from those hit or those hitting others with the freckled red dodgeballs. Other educators think teaching kids to throw things at others perpetuates a negative relationship with conflict, leading to emotional issues.
Years ago, instructors slid transparent paper under a glaring light, reflected onto the forefront of the classroom, for every student to copy. The teacher wrote notes, drew pictures, or highlighted important moments in textbooks to educate their students. Now, smartboards and the internet have replaced this vintage teaching instrument.
7. Pencil Boxes or Cases
I bedazzled my pencil box every chance I had. I'd layer my favorite Hannah Montana stickers over my favorite Britney Spears stickers, and I doused those in gobs of glitter glue. My classmates would hold competitions over who had the fanciest and best-decorated pencil box; the winner received a cool pencil to add to their case. Years earlier, children carried their pencils in wooden cases. Now, some schools don't even use pencils.
8. Twistable Crayons
Crayola had a chokehold on the educational system in the early 2000s. The company created an endless supply of inventive markers and crayons to entertain kids and teachers alike. Crayola instituted the erasable markers, merging two fantastic ideas into a mind-melting device for child artists, a 96-pack of crayons with an included sharpener, and a new kind of crayon.
9. Analog Clocks
Do you have kids? Can they tell time without regurgitating the numbers from a digital clock? Many schools have cleared out their analog clocks in favor of simple digital time tellers. Though some schools keep these old-fashioned time trackers cemented on the wall, numerous schools have replaced them with digital ones.
10. Paper Cutters
Why would you need to cut paper if you don't use a printer? During my final years of high school, my school shifted from storing a surplus of paper in desk drawers and cabinets to a paperless institution. We refrained from taking tests on 8×11 cutouts and switched our pens and pencils for stylus' on blue light screens. With this transition, we waved bye to our clunky paper cutters.
11. AV Carts
Remember the wave of glee filling a classroom when the teacher opened their dusty closet and retrieved the AV cart, signaling the greatest thing ever to cross a grade-schooler's mind: watching a movie instead of learning arithmetic? Today, schools use iPads or smart TVs instead of the antiquated carts carrying massive televisions.
Nails on chalkboards evoke an offensive sound, but so does scratching out a phrase on the board. Whiteboards and dry-erase markers substituted for the former blackboards, and smartboards took over whiteboards' positions. I don't agree with removing paper and pencils from schools, but I do think abolishing chalkboards was a smart move.
13. Card Catalogs
Another nonexistent item in some of today's libraries is card catalogs. The filing system accounted for various information for titles occupying the shelves. One book could have multiple cards regarding the title, author, subject, publishing date, and other identifiable information. Again, this system translated to the World Wide Web.
The class clown in my third-grade class fancied spinning the globe every time the teacher took her eyes away from him. The world display sat in the corner, on top of a sturdy table, assisting our teacher in her geography lessons. Like most things today, physical globes have been swapped out with digital recreations of the world.
15. Pull-Down Maps
Like globes, these guides to our phenomenal Earth evaporated with the emergence of technology. Teachers used to have pull-down maps attached over the top of their whiteboards. They'd pull them down and grab their handy dandy pointer, showing us where we could travel when we grew up. Now, the internet serves as a map.
I didn't encounter abacuses during my schooling, but my older cousins did. Abacuses are mathematical apparatuses developed centuries ago to help users visualize and better understand how to count. Variegated streams of beads stack on top of each other, permitting users to perform mathematical equations, both simple and complex, in addition to real-life problems.
Whenever a teacher threw an end-of-the-year party or a birthday celebration for a group of students, they brought a select CD (likely Kidz Bop) into the classroom for a spin on the radio. Not a lot of people own CDs anymore since streaming services act as makeshift collections, and teachers tend to connect Bluetooth speakers when they need to broadcast music.
18. Floppy Disks
Technology continues to develop, but we can't progress without acknowledging the previous inventions. Floppy disks are magnetic disc drives with storage capacity for computer programs. Teachers distributed floppy disks for their students to store programs and information on the device. Most kids now don't know what a floppy disk is.
A game of tetherball exuded existential questions. Why am I standing here watching a chained ball spin around a pole? What will happen if I don't interject and let the rope swing until it envelops the pole and unravels? How long will the rope bounce between wrapping and unraveling around the tether? Why doesn't this game exist on playgrounds anymore?
20. Individual Desks
As an alternative to a designated workstation with a storage compartment, countless schools implement shared workspaces for students to congregate and thrive with others. Students sit at circular tables so they see all of their classmates and their teacher during a lesson. Groupwork, comfort, and involvement increase with table seating.
21. Film Strips
Way before digital media materialized into streaming, teachers showed students movies on film strips or gelatinous cuts of pictures that transformed into visual media for the students to gaze at. Film strips showcased individual pictures while teachers played the accompanying music or taught the accompanying lesson from the strip.
22. Phone Booths
When did you last spot a phone booth on a school's premises? With two-year-olds owning iPads, why would a school need to set up a public phone for its students? It wouldn't, and they don't. If a child needs to contact their parent, they go to the office.
Mimeographs walked so photocopiers could run. Operators slipped a stencil and ink into the full-bodied machine that pressed the ink and the stencil together, creating copies of the desired item. Photocopiers run smoother and faster than a mimeograph ever would, and they come in a fraction of the size.
Decades before the internet seized the world, students learned to type and communicate via typewriter. The construction had an insert for paper and a keyboard, allowing users to type what they pleased on the clanky keys. Once they reached the final point of one side of the paper, they readjusted the carriage to the starting point and continued to release their thoughts.