Back to School in the Olden Days

Last year, my younger daughter was assigned to interview an older relative about what school was like back when they were in first grade. In an ordinary year, this assignment must have been an interesting way for the kids to discover and appreciate all the differences in school culture and technology that have built up over the past few decades.

My daughter chose to interview her older sister.

“I remember back when I was in first grade, six years ago, we went to school in a building that wasn’t our own house. Some kids got dropped off by their parents, and others got there in a big yellow bus.”

“That’s crazy!”

“And we didn’t use iPads, like, at all.”

“How could you see the teacher?”

“The teacher wasn’t on a screen. The teacher was in the room.”

“No way!”

“In gym, we got to play games and run around, and sometimes we went outside.”

“With the iPad?”

“There was no iPad.”

“Now you’re just making stuff up.”

“I’m not! And when we ate our lunch in the cafeteria, we sat at huge tables with all the other kids in our class.”

“That’s impossible! Also, what’s a cafeteria?”

“It’s like a restaurant, but just for the school.”

“With curbside service? Or was it a drive-through?”

“Neither. It was like one of those old-timey restaurants where you could eat indoors. Like you see sometimes on TV.”

“But you had to stay six feet apart from everyone and wear a mask, right?”

“There. Were. No. Masks.”

“What-what? School in the olden days sounds dangerous! You’re lucky you survived.”

* * *

Some kids went to school in person for at least part of last year, but many students this fall haven’t been inside a school building since mid-March of 2020. Some can barely remember what in-person learning was like.

These are challenging times for sure.

Stay strong, teachers.

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Greg R. Fishbone
Greg R. Fishbone is Author-in-Residence at Mythoversal, a project dedicated to restoring inclusion, diversity, and equity to classical texts. His upcoming middle-grade serial, Becoming Hercules, will be released through the Kindle Vella platform. Greg lives in New England with his wife, two young readers, and a pair of stubbornly illiterate cats.