The Weirdest Things Formerly Taught In Schools

In another day and age, girls in public school might be separated to learn sewing and cooking in home economic class, while boys went to shop class to learn carpentry and mechanics skills. Learning how to take proper notes, develop neat handwriting, read sweep-hand clocks, and how to actually spell words were among the things that were formerly taught in schools that you’re likely not to see today. Here are some of the other things that probably won’t be in the curriculum of most schools today.


LATIN: Schools for the most part no longer teach the classical languages of Latin and Ancient Greek. While you can’t use them in your day-to-day conversation, their loss is also our loss. Studying Latin helps us better understand the grammar and vocabulary of other languages, such as English. In fact, many professions have vocabulary steeped in Latin, including law and medicine.

HANDWRITING: There’s a myth that in the era of computers we don’t need handwriting, but that’s not what research is showing. Studies show that children until about grade six were writing more words, writing faster and expressing more ideas if they could use handwriting — printing or cursive — than if they used the keyboard.

TYPING: As with handwriting, typing in schools is being phased out, if it exists at all. The belief is that kids today are practically born with a keyboard in their hand, so they don’t need to be taught how to type. However, even though self-taught youngsters may be reasonably proficient, they would have a great work advantage if they learned to keyboard at full speed.

USING SLIDE RULES: Before using calculators in math class, students had slide rules to make basic calculations, especially multiplication and division. Slide rules fell out of use in the 1970s when mass-produced pocket calculators became widely available. The last slide rule was manufactured on July 11, 1976.

NOTE TAKING: Before there were smartphones to photograph teacher presentations or record lectures, students had to take notes — on paper with a pen. While technology may be more convenient, research shows that students have to pay more attention to what's being said or shown when they take notes, which means they learn better.

CIVICS: Up to the 1960s, it was common to have separate high school civics courses, designed to teach students about community service and the government. These courses have been slashed with school budgets, leaving the majority of schools civics-free. Some education experts believe that civics courses develop young people’s critical-thinking skills, making them more engaged in public debates and more likely to participate in elections.