It's time for kids of all ages to go back to school, and besides wondering just when I got old enough to be glad all the poor dears will be spending eight hours listening to lectures and suffering mind-numbing boredom, I've also been thinking about all the ways grade school is way different than it was when I attended. It's not like it was decades ago or anyth—oh wait. Yeah, okay, so it was decades ago, but it's not like the 1990s are the … the 1970s, or anything. Still, in spite of so many budget cuts that you have to wonder how any kid manages to get a decent education, there have been some improvements. Don't believe me? Then just check out all the reasons elementary school is more awesome now.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but this is actually what started me on this whole rant. Crayola finally has flesh colored markers in a variety of colors. No more having to search for peach, apricot, tan, chocolate, or obscure colors that don't even look like skin tones. And it only took them until 2011! This makes me want to buy a coloring book and a pack of the new Multi-Cultural markers ASAP.
2. Tech Tools
Back when I was a kid, our computer lab – otherwise known as “the lunch room” – had about 10 Commodore 64 dinosaurs. Our classroom had one as well, which could play huge-pixeled learning games and Centipede, in addition to allowing us to make foot-long banners with the worst graphics ever. We got to use rickety old projectors, overhead projectors, and actual blackboards. Now, it's all PowerPoint and computers and I hate every kid who will never have to copy notes off an overhead projector. Hate!
3. Book Covers
You know, I don't know if we even had book covers until I got to middle school. Our books were all so old and sad, no one cared if the grade schoolers wrote in them. However, when we did get them, they basically looked like pieces of brown paper bags, because that worked, and it was a cheap solution. Now, however, kids get book covers that are fancier than my laptop skin. Like, I'd cry if I ripped one of those.
Snacks have come a long way also. As a youngster, a satisfactory snack was considered a little pack of crackers with a little compartment of the most vile cheese spread known to man. I've permanently blocked out the name of those diabolical cheese monstrosities. Now, there's all granola and chocolate and snack time eighty five times a day or something, to make sure that no child will ever have to experience a growling stomach. Really? It's good for your character!
I distinctly remember getting writer's cramp at least four days a week once I got past the third grade. In trying to prepare students for middle school, my elementary school teachers gave us so much homework, we didn't have time to play on our nonexistent computers. Now, however, who needs writing? Kids use computers for almost every task – and, damn them, they can even go on Tumblr in between questions.
6. Hand Washing
I washed my hands with horrible industrial soap and brown, scratchy paper towels – or single-ply toilet paper when the paper towels were all gone (which happened at least twice a week). Now, kids get sweet smelling hand sanitizer in the bathroom. And the classroom. And their book bags, probably. And I bet a lot of them don't even have to flush for themselves.
7. Field Trips
I went on obscure country field trips. If we weren't visiting Charleston, WV, to see how the government happened, we went on old railways or to the circus and thought it was awesome. Now, I think kids are going abroad, I don't know. But I bet it's more awesome than it used to be.
Even though there are lots of reasons elementary school is more awesome now, I'm kind of glad I'm not still a kid. I mean, yeah, I feel like a fossil right now, but I still got a great education – and I know how to write in cursive, which will be a lost art soon enough. Looking at that list, however funny it's intended, makes me sad that classes like art and band and choir are getting cut. I mean, I'd rather my future son be able to learn how to play the drums or the French horn or the trombone (like mommy!) than go to the zoo with his entire class. Whatever, I'll take him myself. Tell me, what do you view as progress, and what do you wish hadn't changed?
Top Photo Credit: weheartit.com