When thinking about schools, it's easy to imagine that things haven't changed much between now and 20 years ago - I mean, 20 years ago was only the late 90's - but people would be surprised to know how different things were. From social stigma and cliques, to the way a class is taught, many things have evolved and changed.
Sure, it could be left to interpretation whether that's for better or worse, but we do think that a majority of things have improved, and the ones that haven't are still things that can definitely be worked on and fixed. Alright, so we decided to assemble a list of 20 differences between schools and education now and 20 years ago, just as a reminder that so much can actually change in such a short period. The realization that technology has evolved as much as it has, and in return, has influenced the way our schools work and our kids are taught is quite surprising. Gadgets and electronic material play such a major role even in the earliest education, and that was definitely something unthinkable a couple of decades ago.
Okay, here they are 20 ways schools now are different from schools in the 1990's.
20 Students Are No Longer Intimidated By The Teacher
One thing that has changed compared to a couple of decades ago is that students seem to be intimidated by teachers less and less. Now while this obviously isn't a bad thing, it does sometimes seem as if it has reached a line where the students have lost the respect for teachers as well. But in general, the student-teacher relationships have reached a stage where they are more role model and friendship based, rather than an example of authority and intimidation. It isn't so uncommon for students nowadays to seek for guidance from their teachers, even on matters completely unrelated to class.
19 Almost No Topics Are Taboo For Discussion
Another thing that seems to have changed is what can be discussed during classes and with teachers and other students in general. A lot of topics that have been stigmatized in the past, are now completely acceptable to talk about, and they are even encouraged by the academic society. This gives students a lot more freedom to explore and together discuss certain things that they maybe wouldn't be able to talk so freely about 20 years ago. In that sense, schools have really come a long way, and hopefully, they keep moving in that direction in the future as well.
18 Students Don't Form Cliques As Much
Cliques used to be a big thing in schools, and while they still do exist, it is evident that nowadays children like to mingle and hang out with different kinds of people more. Now when we think back of the early 2000's classic teen flick Mean Girls, we can definitely agree that things have come a long way. Separating a big crowd into smaller groups based on their traits and likes has always been normal, but realizing that one isn't necessarily limited to just one of those groups is a huge advantage modern kids have compared to the older generations.
17 Classrooms Have Smart Boards
More and more for classrooms nowadays have smart boards instead of an old-school chalkboard. In addition to this, technology also plays a way bigger role in today's daily education than it did a couple of decades years ago. Besides, if we have already have, and use, smartphones and smart TVs, why wouldn't we use smart boards as well, to improve the way our children experience class. Of course, a lot of classrooms still have a regular chalkboard as well, because that one is still very convenient and useful, and definitely serves a purpose.
16 A Lot Of Students Have Their Teachers On Social Media
With the rise of social media, it was only a matter of time when teachers and students were going to start adding each other on the various platforms. And while there is plenty of debate whether they should have each other as social media friends, it is a fact that a lot of them do. Of course, some schools have even started prohibiting their teachers from accepting their students on social media as it is considered too informal, while other schools have nothing against it, and even encourage it as a means of communication. Anyways, whether we think this is good or bad, it surely can't be stopped.
15 School Lunch Isn't Whatever The School Decides To Offer Anymore
A great change that happened in many schools throughout the past couple of decades is that quite a few laws and regulations on healthy lunches have been passed and enforced in schools. This means kids can't eat an unhealthy burger with greasy fries as a school lunch anymore, but instead they are required to have a healthy, nutritious and balanced meal; one that is either offered at their school or brought in lunchbox from home. This is a huge landmark, as ensuring children eat healthy from a young age on is extremely important for their growth and future health.
14 Uniforms Are Rarely A Requirement
Even 20 years ago uniforms have already started to slowly fade away from schools, but today they seem to be a rather rare school dress code requirement. Sure, most schools still have some general dress codes to ensure decency and not too much distraction, but compared a few decades ago, kids nowadays seem to have a lot more freedom when it comes to their clothing choices. This topic is, of course, still one of those highly debated ones in the sense of whether children should all look the same at school in order to have a better sense of community, or whether they should be allowed to show off their own individual style.
13 There Are So Many More Extracurricular Activities And Clubs
Compared to a couple of decades ago, kids nowadays have even more options for extracurricular activities, as there are generally more clubs and extracurricular activities offered at any school compared to before. This is a great improvement, as it enables kids to explore more options, try out different things, and find what activities they actually like and are passionate about. Besides extracurricular activities can be a crucial part of a child's journey to figuring out what they want to do later on in their life, so they shouldn't be taken too lightly. The fact that kids nowadays have more options is a major improvement.
12 Direct Instruction Is No Longer The Main Teaching Method
Direct instruction used to be such a crucial part of everyday lectures, and while it is definitely still important, other methods have slowly started being just as important. As technology got more and more important it also became a major part of the way teachers teach kids, as it provided them with a multitude of different tools they can use instead of just direct instruction. Besides technology, a major tool for learning that many teachers use more commonly now is class discussion, because it tends to be less formal and more engaging, and it generally feels more natural to discuss topics in a group rather than just one person lecturing.
11 Cellphones Are Not Allowed In Class
A few decades ago not everyone had a phone, and certainly not young kids. Fast forward to today and it's not unusual to see a first-grader with a cell phone in their hand, because honestly, that's just what our world has come too. And of course, we understand that to a certain extent that parents feel more reassured in their child's safety if they have a way of always reaching them. Either way, a majority of schools had to implement a "no cell phones during class" policy, because cell phones or, especially (nowadays) smartphones are such an addiction and can easily distract the kid from the lecture.
10 There Is Usually Wifi
Probably one of the biggest differences from back then and now is that almost all schools have WiFi, which was definitely not the case 20 years ago. And of course, this can be a blessing and a curse at the same time, because sure, kids can find any information they need easily just a phone click away, but they also tend to be way more distracted just by having the internet as an option all the time. WiFi does generally make things much easier not only for kids but also for all the staff and teachers, and it has just become an essential part of our daily life.
9 Individuality Is Appreciated More
One important thing that is also quite noticeable is that, nowadays, rather than trying to make all kids fit in, schools (and their teachers) appreciate and accept the kids' differences, even encourage those. Which means that nowadays children have a better chance at being who they truly are than they did 20 years ago, regardless if that is about something as trivial as their fashion choices or important as their orientation or gender. The fact that schools have come this far is a major success, but that does not mean they still don't have a very long way to go.
8 Students Don't Pass Notes Anymore
Remember passing silly (and important) notes to each other during a boring class? Yeah? Well, the current generations sure won't, as this is something they very rarely do. And who can really blame them, they have their phones and WiFi and even though cell phones are most likely not allowed to be used during their classes, do you think that they really care? We weren't allowed to pass notes either, but that didn't really stop us now did it? So why should this stop them? Anyways, they surely still pass notes in an electronic way, so this tradition is still around in some form...
7 Students Are Advised To Bring A Laptop Or Tablet
Another major difference influenced by the major technological growth our society has faced in the past few decades is the fact that students are encouraged, in certain cases even required to bring their own laptop or tablet to use for lectures in class. Now, this is definitely something that was pretty much not allowed 20 years ago, but nowadays laptops are present in almost every classroom you enter. And to be fair, a majority of students actually do use their laptops a lot for schoolwork, so it was only a matter of time before this habit would become the norm.
6 Being A Nerd Is Cool
20 years ago being a nerd was still looked down upon. Now it's pretty much the new cool. Everyone loves nerds because being smart is finally considered attractive and now it's the nerds who have lots of friends but still love their comic books and quantum physics. A big part of nerds becoming more mainstream is the rise of hipsters, as well as the fact that cliques are not as much a thing anymore. Honestly, the fact that nerds are finally accepted more in a school environment is a great improvement and ensuring that kids see being smart as being cool can only benefit them.
5 Students Question Everything
Another great advancement in school is that nowadays kids tend to question everything. They are usually in environments where they are allowed to, as schools encourage this natural human behavior. But only a few decades ago it was still considered rude to question a teacher's statement, but it was rather assumed that everything the teacher said must be true and correct. The fact is, even the best teachers are just human at the end of the day, which means they are prone to mistakes as well. So questioning everything anyone says is always a good thing for ones own development, and should definitely be encouraged in kids.
4 Studying In A Library Isn't That Common
Libraries are slowly fading out, as kids nowadays tend to find other more comfortable places to study. I mean, all they really need is access to an online library and they can study from wherever they want. Which is why you can often see a bunch of kids doing school work in cafés, or even outdoors, instead of doing it in their school's library - which was more common 20 years ago. I guess it's still the real nerds who end up going to study in the libraries and guess what, at least the libraries are a lot quieter now.
3 Classes Tend To Be More Customized
Here's another thing that changed. Back in the day, the teachers had a certain way they taught their class, they had a syllabus they always stuck to, and every year was pretty much the same to them. Now things are completely different. While the teachers still do stick to a syllabus, that one is generally more customized to the class' needs and preferences, as well as how familiar they are with the topics of that certain class. Education nowadays is a lot more customized and adaptable, which allows the students to learn in accordance with their own levels and needs.
2 Students Rarely Chill Outside
A noticeable downside to the whole technology in schools thing is the fact that kids nowadays don't chill nearly as much outside during breaks as they used to, but they rather stay inside doing things on their laptops and phones. If they do happen to be outside they are generally still on their laptops and phones. Acknowledging that this one of those technology setbacks is important, and schools should find ways to engage kids into actually hanging out with each other during breaks more, as at the end of the day, no device ever can substitute human face-to-face interaction.
1 A Lot Of Study Material Is In Electronic Form
The last difference we decided to point out is the fact that a lot of study material is in electronic form, and teachers having and using emails is a must. Honestly, a lot of schools even provide their students with e-books instead of hard copies, and while that is very common today, it wasn't only 20 years ago. And while some love just having to carry around one laptop or tablet instead of 5 books, others do still prefer the feeling of holding an actual book and studying from it. Either way, it cannot be denied that electronic materials play a major part in today's education.