My 1980’s Childhood

Another school year is off and running. The other night I was tucking my second grader into bed and he asked what my childhood school days were like. Suddenly, we were involved in a long conversation because he just couldn’t believe my responses and wanted to know more. This is totally going to show my age, but if you’re in your mid to late thirties, maybe you can relate…


“Mom, your school playground was made over CEMENT?” That’s right kiddo, beneath our entire school playground area was a huge piece of hard, solid cement. If we fell off the monkey bars, swings, or the slide, we got completely scraped up and maybe even suffered a few concussions – but somehow we all survived.

“The desks in your classroom were in rows?” Yes sweetie. Using a black marker, the teacher would mark an “X” on the tile floor and the left leg of the desk HAD to be placed on that X. The teacher would walk up and down the rows daily to make sure our desks were on that X and if they weren’t, we would lose some recess time.

“Wait, you didn’t have computers in school?” Nope, we didn’t have computers, we had ONE computer. SmartBoards, Promethean boards, iPads and computer labs were non-existent. We had one computer that was the absolute Holy Grail in our classroom. It was extremely heavy and the size of a large tank, only capable of typing. I remember being so excited to touch those keys for the very first time.

“What’s a ditto?” Well sweets, that was the way I learned in school. There were no “hands-on activities” or fun ways to get kids to enjoy learning. Instead, we were forced to fill out tons and tons of dittos (aka boring worksheets). Our lesson plans consisted of reading textbooks and answering the questions at the end of each chapter. Whenever we weren’t reading, we were filling out 9 million dittos.

“When you broke a school rule, you had to what??” Any time we broke a rule, we would sit alone during recess and write on a piece of paper (the same sentence over and over) 25 times. I guess they thought if we were forced to write it out so much that we would never want to break a school rule again! As a second grader, I remember writing “I will not talk in the hallway” 25 times.  Yes, twenty-five times.

“You didn’t have Google?” Well, I can go on and on…my son was in awe.

Before our conversation came to a close, he made a comment that he’s so glad it’s 2013 and he was thankful for his iTouch. He made it clear that he wouldn’t want to grow up the way I did, he thinks I was totally deprived.

But sadly, as I tucked him in for the night, I could only wish that he had my 1980’s childhood – life was so much simpler back then.

Dittos and all.


  1. says

    Oh yes, life was infinitely much simpler than.
    Funny how chalkboards came back into fashion for everything yes? That was what my teachers used in classrooms. :)

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