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22 Stories From Parents And Teachers About How Different School Is Today Compared To Even 10 Years Ago

Recently, I was reading about what school is like post-COVID, and I was surprised by some of the stuff I saw. I wanted to hear more from people who've experienced this first-hand, like parents and teachers, so I decided to ask our very own BuzzFeed Community how school is different for kids today than it was for them. From sweet, nostalgic reminiscing to legitimate complaints, here are some of their most interesting answers:

1."I graduated high school in 2019, and work very closely with high schoolers now, five years later. The change is astounding. One of the teachers I worked with had a failing rate of 50%. Half of her students had an F, and it was because they wouldn’t hand their work in. All were perfectly capable, hell the teacher actually did their worksheets with them in class! They just would not take accountability for their missing work."

A student rests her head on her hand, looking away from a book on a desk in a classroom

2."Math teachers can no longer threaten kids that they won't have a calculator in their pocket every day."

—Anonymous

3."I’m a young Gen X'er. [When I was in school,] using the internet to research anything other than current events was considered cheating (most of my classmates did not have home internet yet, so this was rarely an issue), and it could get you suspended. Cell phones and pagers were completely banned, and having either in your possession would get you expelled (because 'drug dealers use them'). I can’t believe elementary schoolers are using laptops for schoolwork."

Teacher showing a student a book in a classroom with educational materials around
Owen Franken / Getty Images

4."It seems that parents nowadays want all the control and none of the responsibility. Strict reading lists, approved curriculum, allergy rules… all the doing of parents. Ask the same parents to discipline their kid — [they would] never."

<div><p>"When I was in elementary school, we watched <i>Roots </i>every year from K-8 [and] did whole projects and reports during Black History Month. Had co-ed health class. [When we] got in trouble [we] had to have a conference with all those involved and their parents. </p><p>"Now, my 6th grader needs a permission slip to watch <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/angelaandaloro/black-family-friendly-movies-disney-plus" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hidden Figures;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link "><i>Hidden Figures</i></a>. [They have] no projects or reports during ANY historical month (Black history, women’s history, Hispanic history). Health class is now separated, all girls in one room, all boys in the other, and they are told not to discuss with each other what was taught/learned. They also need a permission slip for this. Parents don’t meet [each other] over discipline issues, in fear of 'safety and privacy.' School seems to have gotten dumber and more complicated."</p><p>—<a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/lamamama56" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:lamamama56;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">lamamama56</a></p></div><span> Nick David / Getty Images</span>

5."This isn't 'today' so it may not be totally relevant, but I want to share when I did start noticing a difference. I believe I started the first grade right when No Child Left Behind was implemented. I [had] attended preschool and kindergarten, so I had at least a little experience in school in the before times. Anyway, I was in the third grade in the early to mid 2000s. I was walking past the preschool classroom and peeped in. The kids were sitting around a white board. The teacher was pointing at words and the kids read them out loud. I was SHOCKED. I didn't learn to read my first word (other than my name) until the very end of preschool, and these kids were getting drilled."

Student in uniform appears thoughtful while writing in a notebook with a pencil, eraser on desk

6."Emphasis on and stress around standardized testing. When I was in school, we'd take a standardized test every year, but I don't remember it being something that meant much. Now, everything in public school is about testing. Schools take slews of standardized tests. Scoring effects school districts and teachers. It's the end-all be-all."

robert_dunder

7."We had so many electives starting in junior high. Home ec., sewing, computer lab, leather working, wood shop, languages, and an art class every quarter."

Woman kneeling by a school project titled "Water Falls," with displays and diagrams behind her

8."In the year 2000, I remember in middle school we were required to take a class on proper etiquette and how to behave in polite society and respect people. I mean, back then I remember thinking it was a weird class to be taking in public school, but I doubt this is being taught anymore period as part of a formal education."

sweetpenguin21

9."A LOT has changed from when I was in school in the '90s and early 2000s. We had computer labs at school, were only allowed to be on the computer as a reward, and it was usually for 15-20 minutes at most. Obviously no one had cell phones. The social environment was different."

Person using an old computer with a map on the screen, wearing a sweater

10.From a teacher: "Students don’t take notes. They don’t even write well if they have to use a pen and paper. I’ll give them a worksheet to fill out in small groups and instead of complete sentences they write a few words that are illegible."

—Anonymous

11."I see a lot of differences, which is to be expected, but some of them really threw me for a loop. I was sitting in my son’s kindergarten orientation and learned that he was getting a Chromebook to use. My thoughts were like, 'Huh okay, that’s cool.' When the teacher explained that the kids had to transport them back and forth every day and were expected to log on for 10 minutes each night to do homework, I struggled to keep my jaw from dropping."

Three children are gathered around a laptop, appearing engaged and happy

12."Other interesting things: kids don’t just have holidays and spirit week to dress up for. No, there’s geography week and 12 days of holiday spirit. Do you have to participate? No, not at all, but it’s hard to say 'no' when you want your kid to feel included in fun activities."

"Oh and virtual learning is fun when they close the school for snow. It’s challenging because I have a younger daughter, not in school, and my son needs a lot of one-on-one support.

"We found our best option was for both my husband and I to take off work. We were able to support both kids and provide a separate environment for my son to do class in. Luckily, this year [this only happened] once and the teacher cut the school day in half, but I couldn’t imagine how we would manage if it occurred more."

jesslew

13."There are a ton of differences, mostly bad, but a few good. My middle school students are absolutely screen-addicted and have very short attention spans. Their handwriting is awful, but they can't type efficiently either. [When I went to school,] we were writing paragraphs in second grade, five-paragraph essays in fourth, and two-to-three-page papers by eighth grade. My students can barely write a proper paragraph in seventh grade. Many of them have learned helplessness and low resource utilization skills."

A person reclines on a bed, wearing headphones and looking intently at a smartphone

14."Today, kindergarteners are expected to do homework, read, and do addition and subtraction. In kindergarten in the 1960s, we learned about birds and Native Americans. We didn’t learn our alphabet or numbers until first grade. My friends and I are all college graduates."

—Anonymous

15."If I had to deal with all the social media crap that kids nowadays have to deal with, I’d probably wouldn’t be around now. Back then it was just an occasional 'anonymous' phone call — I can’t imagine what it would be like now!"

Child in a striped top uses a computer mouse and wears headphones, looking focused
Owen Franken / Getty Images

16."I graduated in 2002. It seems like for all we tried to stop bullying, so many kids are BULLIES nowadays — like a lot more than when I was in school. The disrespect from them is unbelievable, and believe me, I was a little asshole!"

Four individuals seated on a bench, each looking at their smartphones, with a skateboard visible

17."So many screens! Back when I was in school, the only time we had any type of 'screen time' was computer class. That entire class was based around learning how to work a computer; no games, no streaming services, just tech knowledge. So it was very surprising to me when my son started school and I learned they had tablets in his class that they used to play with during free time, and to learn with during work hours. They have a bunch of laptops in the class too for the kids to play games on. It seems more and more that the school system has become very technology oriented."

Students at computers with headphones, focusing on screens, educational setting

—Anonymous

Owen Franken / Getty Images

18."No textbooks. There was something special about getting to write your name in the front cover AND see who all had that book before you. School seemed legitimately over when you got to turn it in at the end of the year."

"And with no textbooks, there are no use for any lockers. They are now just a waste of space that's blended into the background with no purpose. I seen a few random ones being used as a comment box. I feel like my locker was where everything happened and where people went to find me and the inside was decorated to my liking with pictures and quotes and stickers."

—Anonymous

19."The cheating is rampant and kids want to negotiate with you when they get caught. Instead of saying 'I’m sorry, you’re right. I did cheat,' they say, 'Well I didn’t cheat on this part so can you grade that section instead?' No, kiddo, I can’t. They all feel entitled to an A for doing the absolute bare minimum. It’s insane."

Person using smartphone with text on screen, focus on hand and device
Westend61 / Getty Images

20."Kids are A LOT more disrespectful, and you can just tell they do not get disciplined either at all or enough. I may be only 26 working as a paraprofessional but I will match these kids' energy EVERY TIME they speak to me wrong. I don't care. 🤣"

sillyfish46

21."For me it’s snow days. I grew up in the northern Midwest and the joke at my school was that the only way we were getting a snow day was if the superintendent couldn’t get out of his driveway. In reality if there was less than six inches we knew we’d have school. These days the schools seem to close if there’s so much as a forecast of snow, let alone any actual accumulation. Then all the schools have to run late, into summer, because they used up all their allotted snow days. It’s just wild to me!"

Snow-covered street with buildings on both sides, traffic lights, and no visible persons

— Anonymous

Chris Stein / Getty Images

22.And finally: "Parents are NOT taking responsibility for raising their children. Then, they blame the teachers for their children's terrible behavior. Your kids CAN'T READ!!! Stop being their 'friends,' and help teachers."

bigscooby04

It seems like some things are better, and some things are worse; we need to be teaching kids how to use technology properly! And, it seems, teaching them how to write in proper sentences. If you want to share your own story, feel free to leave it in the comments below. Or, if you prefer to stay anonymous, feel free to check out this anonymous Google form. Your story may be featured in an upcoming BuzzFeed Community post!