In popular culture, there are always the usual items that show up in pretty much every television show and movie about school: lockers for the students, the tradition of taking a shower after gym class, and using a calculator to figure out the answer to the problem in math class.
Schools may provide these items for their students to use in theory, but the reality is often much different. For example, I had never heard of taking a shower after gym class because when I was growing up, my junior high school and my high school never even had one in the building.
Either we brought out gym uniforms and changed out of them after class (junior high) or gym class was the last two periods of the day and we could go home and rinse off, if we so desired.
Things like computer labs are also becoming obsolete because there really isn’t any need to teach students how to use a computer since most of them have had a device in their hands from birth. The following explores all of the items that are traditional for schools, but that most kids nowadays don’t bother using for one reason or another.
20 The Guidance Counselor
Ed Week points out that while many schools have a guidance counselor as part of their staff, they don’t get a chance to make use of them for a wide variety of reasons.
The most common reason is that there are just too many students currently enrolled in the school and only so many available slots for the counselor to see people. This can leave many students out in the dust or they only get a short amount of time to talk to the counselor, which isn’t nearly enough time for them to get the advice that they so desperately need.
19 AV Carts
For previous generations of students, when the teacher rolled out the AV cart with the television and VCR attached to it, it was a sign that the lecture was going out the window and the classroom could get a bit of a break by watching a video.
Redbook Mag notes that they still have the AV carts, but they are becoming increasingly obsolete due to the fact that projectors, computers and SMARTboards are a lot easier to use and they certainly aren’t unwieldy. Plus, no one has to waste precious learning time to wheel the carts from one classroom to the next and then set it up.
18 The Showers After Gym Class
It used to be a popular trope for movies and television shows that revolved around teenagers to make use of the idea of showering after gym class. For example, the famous film Carrie has an iconic scene set in the girl’s bathroom and shower combination after gym class ended.
The New York Times notes that students today have largely moved away from showering after gym class, even if there are showers provided for them on campus for a wide variety of reasons. Some kids feel a bit silly about rinsing off in front of their peers and others simply just don’t care. I know I never showered after gym class—my school didn’t provide them and gym class was the last class of the day, so I simply went home and took a shower then.
17 The Secretary's Office Phone To Call Their Parents
Great Schools writes that ideally, the school secretary should be the go-between for communications between the school, parents and their children. When I was in high school, if I wasn’t feeling too well, I simply asked my teacher if I could be excused and I headed down to the school secretary’s office. She had my parents’ contact information on file and either called them to see if they could pick me up or if they could give permission to walk home by myself.
In an age of smartphones, there really isn’t any need for the school secretary to pick up the phone and contact a student’s parents if they’re not feeling well because the student in question could simply text their mother or father to let them know.
16 Computer Labs
When I was in elementary and high school, we had the obligatory computer lab classes in which we learned formatting on word documents, how to build a rudimentary website and how to save photos to a computer. Yes, this was very old-school.
Edutopia points out that even if a school offers a computer lab, it’s pretty much obsolete because most children grow up knowing how to use modern technology and are introduced to devices such as a laptop, a smartphone or a tablet from an early age. Most of the students today could teach the teacher a thing or two, come to think of it.
15 Dry-Erase Markers And Boards
I’ll never forget when my high school made the transition from the traditional green chalkboard and white chalk to the oh-so-fancy dry erase board and markers; all of my classmates and I thought that our school was so high-tech for offering this to our teachers.
Love To Know that some schools still provide a wish list for the parents of the students to donate items such as dry erase markers so they don’t run out in the middle of a lesson, but with technology such as SMARTboards slowly but surely taking over, no one really uses these markers in a lesson anymore.
14 Flash Cards Are Obsolete Now, Thanks To Apps
Study notes that it was a time-honored tradition for schools to either provide their students with flash cards or have them make their own using blank index cards in class. I remember painstakingly writing out the multiplication table using bright markers in my elementary school math class so I could study for a future quiz.
Kids today are relying less and less on flash cards because like with everything else in our increasingly digital world, there’s an app for that. Why take the time to write out flash cards or use the ones the school gave you when you can simply download an app to help you study onto your smartphone?
13 Maps Of The World
Redbook Mag notes that one staple for any history teacher’s classroom is either a massive map of the United States on the wall of the classroom or the chalkboard that could be pulled down or a globe that shows countries and capital cities all around the world that sat on a bookcase in the classroom.
Most students nowadays wouldn’t even glance at these items because it is far easier for their teacher to pull up a detailed map for their lesson on the SMARTboard or for a student to pull up either a map or a 3-D globe online or using an app on their smartphone or even their tablet.
12 Calculator For Basic Math
Love To Know points out that ideally, a student should use the calculator that their school loaned them to use during their math class, but unless it’s a graphic calculator, there really isn’t any need for kids these days to use them.
After all, most if not all smartphones, computers and tablets have a built-in calculator that you can use to perform basic calculations. This is a lot easier to use for modern-day students and they don’t have to worry about what will happen if they accidentally lose the calculator or if they accidentally forget to bring it and wind up leaving it at home.
11 Cubbyholes For Young Children
When I was a little girl, I must admit that one of the things that really sold me on attending kindergarten was the fact that I had my very own cubbyhole. I thought that I was so cool and grown up to have a place where I could store my hat, gloves, coat and lunch box.
Nowadays, most parents buy even their kindergartener a backpack (I can’t tell you how many kids in that age group I’ve seen walking to school with their parents that has a Dora The Explorer book bag) and since you can store hat, gloves and a lunch box in ‘em, there’s really no need for a child to sue a cubby hole as a storage center anymore. In fact, Early Child Education Zone notes that teachers these days use the cubby holes as a way to store extra toys rather than as a place for kids to put their stuff on.
My high school was so small that we didn’t even have any kind of lockers for the entire four years I was there. It seems strange for many folks that grew up in previous generations, but students nowadays are using the school-provided lockers less and less.
PHS Connected points out that most students opt out of using them either because their school doesn’t provide them or they are so far away from most of their classrooms that it’s easier to just lug all of your belongings around in your backpack rather than race from one end of the school to the other to get one or two items before the late bell rings.
9 School Libraries
I changed schools in the summer between fifth grade and sixth grade. My former school used to have a massive library and I used to love taking books out of there to read when I was a little girl. Needless to say, it was something of a cultural awakening when I transferred and found out that my new school didn’t even have their own library.
The Guardian points out that there is no need for students to use the school library anymore because like it or not, printed word is on the decline now that anyone can rent or download the books they need for a certain assignment from different apps and anyone can look facts up on online search engines.
8 Hand Sanitizer On The Teacher's Desk
Love To Know points out that many teachers often purchase a big tub of hand sanitizer for their students to use before they eat as well as after lunch or after they use the restroom as an attempt to keep germs from getting passed around from person to person in the class.
Given the fact that most grocery stores sell personal-sized bottles of hand sanitizers and it’s become almost second nature for students today to have multiple bottles stored in their book bag or their coat pocket, there really isn’t that much of an occasion for kids today to make use of the one that their teacher bought.
7 Dictionary And A Thesaurus
Teck Translations points out that while many schools in this day and age like to give their students their own dictionary and thesaurus, they really don’t have much of a need to use the printed versions anymore.
There are plenty of online dictionary and thesaurus that are updated far more frequently than their print cousins. Updating the print versions is a tedious process, especially when the creators try to keep up-to-date with all of the newfangled words that are getting created. It’s much easier and let’s face it, far more accurate for a student to simply use their smartphone to look up the meaning of a word.
6 Movement Activities With Parachutes In Gym Class
Back in the day, I used to get so excited whenever our gym teacher used to bust out the play parachute and my class got a chance to run around underneath it or use the brightly colored fabric to make waves.
Play Parachutes notes that while there are still fun activities such as the ball roll or parachute tag that teachers can play with using this item, it’s pretty rare that students get a chance to use it. Gym classes nowadays tend to focus more on sports or teaching children flexibility by introducing them to age-appropriate yoga moves or even beginner dance classes.
5 Dodge Ball
Redbook Mag notes that dodge ball used to be the staple for gym classes for children of all ages. I remember that I always disliked when our teacher announced in junior high that we’d play dodge ball in gym class because my hand-eye coordination isn’t exactly the best and I never could aim properly. Plus, I was a slow mover at that age and was always one of the first ones to have to sit out.
Most schools still have either the foam or hard rubber balls that are used to play the game, but gym teachers are far more cautious about letting their students play this game because nowadays parents can be very overprotective and would pitch a fit if their child’s glasses accidentally snapped due to a rousing game of dodge ball.
Love To Know writes that many schools either hand out highlighters for their middle school or high school students to use or they require their parents to go out and purchase them as part of their school supplies list.
Most kids nowadays don’t use them since it’s a lot easier to scribble notes in the margin of a page in a book using a pen. Plus, highlighters have a tendency to fade pretty quickly so it is just cheaper and far more convenient for students to use a pen to make notes. Heck, my high school gave my class highlighters but no one ever used them to highlight passages in a book. We either used pens or some enterprising folks used Crayola markers that they had at home.
3 Computer Paper
Whether a school has a complete computer lab, a fax machine or just a handful of computers in a classroom somewhere like my tiny high school did, schools always had plentiful amounts of computer paper on hand for students to use.
How Stuff Works notes that it is pretty rare for students to need the aforementioned computer paper because it is much easier to just download and save the information you need onto your own device or even a flash drive so that way if you ever need to print it, you can do so at home. Plus, items printed on paper were easy to lose amongst the countless other papers in a school folder or in a backpack.
2 Bathroom Passes
Redbook Mag notes that in many old-school movies and television shows, it always seems as if every time there is a scene where the main character has to ask the teacher for a bathroom pass in order to be excused in order to go to the bathroom. My parents’ school had implemented this rule but by the time I started first grade, it was a thing of the past.
Sure, schools might provide a bathroom pass, but no one uses them anymore because they get lost easily and can break. It is far easier for a student to raise their hand and ask to be excused or to simply get up and use the bathroom as needed—which is what my classmates and I did all throughout our school years.
Love To Know points out that a common school supply staple are those big, chunky erasers although for the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone bothers to hand those out anymore. No one uses them and no one has for a long, long time.
When I was in school, my classmates and I never used them because we always had plenty of pencils in our pencil cases that came with a built-in eraser so the giant ones were pretty superfluous. I used to just take them home with me over the summer and use them when I was doodling in my little sketchbook during the break.
Sources: Red Book Mag, My English Teacher, NY Times, US News, Play Parachutes, Love To Know, EdWeek, Great Schools, Edutopia, Study, Teck Translations, Early Childhood Education Zone, PHS Connected, The Guardian, How Stuff Works