6 Surprising Facts About How Different Education Was Fifty Years Ago

3 min


Education seems to have stayed the same for many years now. However, the reality is that it changes. Maybe not as fast as we would want it to, but it does.

You will be surprised to see how many things have changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Five decades ago, education was completely different in terms of its demographics, disciplines, and other important aspects. So, if you are wondering how it looked like back then, read on. We are about to introduce you to some unexpected facts.

Facts about changes in education within the last five decades

1. Students respected teachers more.

Teacher to student "You're the best person I know" gif

Years ago, teachers treated students differently. They expected great discipline when in the classroom. No disrespect was allowed.

According to the statistical data provided by the USA Today, students now are way less respectful to their teachers. They say that back then, at least 79% of students showed respect to the teachers compared to 31% these days.

Moreover, according to Marybeth Harrison, a public school speech therapist, parents are more likely to believe their children rather than the teachers. But it used to be the other way around not so long ago.

2. No more uniforms (mostly).

girls with school uniforms gif

Fifty years ago, students had to wear uniforms so that no inequality was demonstrated inside the classroom. However, things have changed, and now students can wear literally anything they want.

However, New Orleans, Cleveland, Chicago, and Boston are the cities with the highest number of public schools where uniforms are mandatory, the Statistic Brain reports.

According to the recent survey, parents are the ones against the uniforms because “it hinders students’ self-expression and personal liberty”. Meanwhile, teachers believe that it reduces peer pressure, disruption, competition inside the classroom, and promotes school pride and positive behavior among students.

3. Teaching methodology has changed.

"No matter what anybody tell you, words and ideas can change the world" gif

It is reported that five decades ago, the main way of conveying knowledge to the students was through direct instruction while these days teachers strive to interact with the class as much as possible.

They show visual aids, they start projects inside the classroom and offer other ways of learning instead of simply giving lectures.

As a result, students learn the material better and love studying. No matter whether they are asked to find good research paper topics or grow onions on the windowsill, with such an approach in the classroom, students deal better with all the assignments.

4. Women are now more educated than men.

"Who run the world? Girls" Beyonce gif

Pew Social Trends reports that around 38% of women have at least a four-year college degree compared to around 31% of men. These numbers are true for people aged 25-32. However, fifty years ago, only 12% of women of this age had higher education compared to 20% of men. The social situation was different back then and women did not have as many rights and possibilities as men did.

The Huffington Post states that between 1990 and 2000, another wave of feminism occurred and brought about positive changes. As a result, more women enter higher educational establishments than men do.

5. More Americans got diplomas 30 years ago.

Kids throwing graduation hats in the air

According to the Do Something, the United States used to be a leader in quantity of diplomas received yearly. Moreover, the level of American education was considered to be the highest in the whole world.

But this changed and now America ranks only 36th in the world, both quality and quantity-wise as compared to Shanghai (1st), Singapore (2nd), Hong Kong (3rd), Finland (12th) and the UK (26th).

Why is it so?

The Secretary of Education of the USA, Arne Duncan, stated that “The problem is not that our 15-year-olds are performing worse today than before – the problem, instead, is that they are simply not making progress.” Yet, students in many other nations, as the secretary-general pointed out, are advancing instead of standing still.

6. Religion was a part of the daily school routine.

Praying teachers GIF

Every day at school started with a prayer and the teacher would read something from the Bible. However, religion was taken out of the schools since then and now nothing associated with it is allowed on school grounds. The government is way too scared of possible conflicts and discrimination. However, Christianity as a religion of the majority was a significant part of school days fifty years ago.

Education has changed greatly. You might not even notice it, but it keeps changing today as well. We hope that the USA will show some progress in the years to come in this area and will gain back the position it used to hold years ago. But even without that, education, as we have it today, is pretty amazing!


author image_Kevin NelsonThis article was written by Kevin Nelson – a professional educator and a private tutor with over 8 years of experience. He is also a content writer for various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media & blogging. During his off time, Kevin enjoys traveling and cooking. Feel free to connect with him on his BlogTwitter, Linkedin or Google+.

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