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win

7 Drastic Changes To Elementary School

Proof positive that at least one thing about being a child of the 90s sucked. Of course, we weren’t force fed hand sanitizer every five minutes either, so it evens out.

7. Figuring Out Who Your Teacher Is…THEN:

Ah, the trepidation of a new school year. Who would your teacher be? Would any of your friends make it into your class or would you be doomed to a year of trying to cobble together a new clique? Begging your parents to drive/walk/bus you down to the elementary school to peruse the list scotch taped inside the windows with one grubby finger until either A) Success! You and your best friend were not separated by the arcane magic associated with room assignments or B) Tragedy! You are alone with the kid that eats paste and a bunch of new kids.

NOW:

Kids today know nothing of the terror of the list. Instead they have the long wait associated with the Teacher Card, a post card sent out approximately a week and a half before the start of the new year. No comparing and contrasting on a hot summer day in an empty school parking lot. Nope. Unless you have the phone number of every friend you made last year, there is no way of knowing the fate of your BFF bracelets until Open House, or if your parents work, the first day of school.

6. Teaching Implements…THEN:

Once school began, it was time to get your learn and hand cramps on. If you were a nerd/teacher’s pet, using the sponge and bucket to clean off the chalkboard instead of going out into the oppressive heat and primordial social goo of recess was the highlight of the day. Not that I’d know anything about that. >.>

Of course, if you lived somewhere super fancy you might get to clean dry erase marker off the overhead projector instead.

NOW:

My kids have this snazzy new system at their school called the SMARTBoard. I’m not sure how widespread it is yet, but rest assured this interactive future magic is winding its way to you.

A state of the art projector run from the computer on the teacher’s desk, this thing is basically a giant iPad designed to engage children and make scuffles break out in the aisles over who gets to use the mystical learning device next. As soon as tablets are standardized, note-taking hand cramps will be a thing of the past.

5. Book Covers…THEN:

As we all are painful aware, the public school system is underfunded. Book covers were a bland type of conformity meant to keep you from doodling spaceships full of Velociraptors on the precious Social Studies book published in 1957. One day a year was dedicated to pasting together your covers and trying to snazz them up.

NOW:

Look at this picture. Look. At. It. This is what kids today have to conceal the grazing zebra on the Science book published in 1974. Going by such names as Book Sox, these covers literally just stretch over the book, raising the Kid Cool factor by at least 8 simply by existing. No minor in Paper Bag Origami required.

Bitter? Me? Never.

4. Snack Time…THEN:

If you’re scratching your head and thinking “Snack time?” you’re not alone. When we were in elementary school, if you didn’t eat breakfast you JUST STARVED.

You don’t like what’s on the menu for lunch or what your mom packed you? You JUST STARVED.

NOW:

Nowadays our precious butterballs snowflakes can’t go three hours without eating. This has caused schools to implement mandatory Snack Time. However, these cash strapped institutions don’t have the funds to feed our darlings.

If you’re lucky, you’ll only be asked to provide a “healthy” snack for your own child. Every day. All year.

If you’re unlucky, your child will bring home the snack rotation calendar where once a month you’ll be required to panic at 11pm and rush to the all night Wal-Mart because you are responsible for feeding 24-32 tiny mouths the next day. And woe is you if you don’t buy a snack “cool” enough for Cool Kid factor and “healthy” enough for teacher approval. Hint: This snack does not exist.

3. Homework…THEN:

Wide-ruled notebooks full of chicken scratch that may be notes or may be a rant on the statistical improbability of gym teams being distributed fairly. Worksheets (or dittos in my neck of the woods) stuffed in-between pages of relevant books. Diorama projects hot glued into a shoe box. This was the homework we knew.

NOW:

My fifth grader had an option on a report last year to do a PowerPoint presentation. Let me reiterate: My, at the time, fourth grader knows more than me enough about PowerPoint to do a ten minute slideshow on the properties of cloud types.

Kids as young as Kindergarten with Internet access have the ability to study for spelling tests and finish their art homework online. Of course, for those of us not comfortable relinquishing control of the computer to a six year old, the old-fashioned paper version exists…for now.

Not to mention each classroom has their own blog where teachers post up to the minute updates complete with photographic evidence that your children are indeed learning how to make duck face.

2. Sanitation…THEN

Soap and water. Optional.

NOW:

Hand sanitizer. Everywhere. On the door frame in every room. In the hallway. In the cafeteria. In the office. On the brick when entering from the playground. If they could graft it onto the actual children, I have no doubt they would.

All provided by the parents, naturally. Mandatory back to school supply don’t you know.

1. Field Trips…THEN:

If you were lucky enough to live in a school district that hadn’t voted to nix field trips all together, you probably thought you were living it up.

Of course looking back on it, field trips to mosquito infested woodlands on the premise of learning about nature and making candles on the cheap wasn’t the most magical experience of your young life.

NOW:

Maybe it’s just the school my kids go to, but field trips have gotten elaborately out of control.

Just one example: Last year, my kindergartner extorted $25 out of me for a single field trip. Eight dollars for matching t-shirts (mandatory), twelve dollars for lunch and admission (mandatory) and five dollars for the gift shop (mandatory unless you’re a total loser apparently). Where was the school going with all my money?

Two hours away on a charter bus to the zoo. Because that’s a great place to take eighty plus six year olds and five adults, right?

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