Older People Are Sharing The "Normal" Things That Used To Happen In Schools That Will Make You Say, "Wait, WHAT"

Education has changed drastically over the years, but you might be surprised at the absolutely wild things that were once deemed "normal" when your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were in school.

Empty classroom with desks, backpacks, and papers, chalkboard in front. No individuals present
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I recently asked older adults in the BuzzFeed Community: "What "normal" things used to be common in schools that are unheard of today?"

Elderly woman sitting outdoors, smiling gently, wearing a scarf and cardigan

Here are their most shocking responses:

1."When I was in elementary School (1963-1966) in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, the local power company did a presentation on the wonders of nuclear power and passed around a chunk of radioactive ore for the kids to handle."


2."When I was in 5th/6th grade, I was asked to manage the principal's office during the principal's/secretary's lunch breaks."


3."In our small rural town in Kansas, which was mostly comprised of farm kids from all over the county, the older junior and senior-aged kids were allowed to drive the buses on the rural routes. One of our drivers, who was a senior, used to hit a big hill at top speed, and it would make the fire escape door fly off the back of the bus."


4."In elementary school (1961), when I was ill, my father sent a glass jar containing whiskey and honey, with a tablespoon attached, to the teacher with dosage instructions."


5."Junior high, New Jersey, early 1970s. Girls were automatically assigned to sewing (grade 7) and cooking (grade 8). Boys automatically got wood shop and mechanical drawing."


6."After finishing kindergarten, our teacher had a sleepover at her house and invited all the kids from class. We camped out in her living room, got to play with her baby, and hung out with her husband watching movies after dark. The next day, after breakfast, we went to the park and hung out 'til our parents came to collect us from the town where we lived 20 minutes away."


7."In the early '70s, if a child's name was difficult to pronounce, the school changed their name. Enrique was changed to Henry."


8."We went on a field trip to watch a cow get butchered."


9."My high school also had a 10-minute mid-morning smoke break. It was the mid-to-late 1990s."


10."My high school had a daycare, and I remember the teachers being upset that they couldn't use it. It definitely helped teen moms stay in school, though."


11."Class of '86 here. For an English Shakespeare presentation in class, I used one of my real swords as a prop. I just walked down the hallway to class, blade in its sheath, no problem!"


12."My mom was a teacher, and when she got pregnant with me, she was expected to quit as soon as she started showing because it was 'inappropriate' to be pregnant around children. She refused to, and it made her principal really angry."


13."Back in the '60s, our high school (Ontario, Canada) received a bomb threat, and all 1,100 students were evacuated. Ten minutes later, the principal gathered all the senior-year boys and sent them back to the school to do a thorough search. As expected, the bomb didn't exist, but potentially we were expendable. Not one single student nor parent commented, let alone complained."


14."When I was in elementary school in the '70s, we assembled every morning in the auditorium to say the pledge of allegiance. Every year, a nice lady would come to our school and give all the students a Bible; I still have mine. We received fluoride treatments at school. Also, once a year, a nurse would come to the school to check us for scoliosis."


15."A carton of milk for lunch costs three cents."


16."This was in 1969. The 8th grade went on a field trip to Washington, D.C. The teacher let us off the bus at the Smithsonian, told us what time to be back, and let everyone roam around, completely unchaperoned. It was exhilarating."


17."My middle school in the '70s required that boys swam naked during swim class. I still don't know the reason."


18."In the '60s and ‘70s, my father-in-law was an elementary principal and used to take the boys out of school to the barber if he thought their hair was too long."


19."In Central Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis, our elementary schools had drills. All the students were loaded on buses and taken to a 'safe' place. The safe place was approximately 15 miles away. My younger sister was afraid she would never see our parents again. I was afraid that we were still in the bombing zone. None of it made any sense."


20."During high school, boys had to carry their football or basketball during that season's sport. If they had a girlfriend, she had to walk three feet behind the athlete."


21."If you said a swear word, the teacher would make you put a bar of soap in your mouth. You had to sit on a stool until the teacher felt you were punished enough."


22."I remember punishment in class for whatever the teacher didn't like; we had to hold four pounds of books in each hand with our arms extended."


23."My husband had undiagnosed ADHD in elementary school, and a teacher made him sit at a desk in the back of a classroom, wearing a dunce cap that said 'infant' when he was unable to focus. This was during the '60s. Can you imagine the lawsuit if that happened today?"


24."Running errands for teachers during class! We were sent out to the city numerous times to deliver or pick up stuff or even pay their bills at the post office. I remember picking up dry-cleaning, delivering documents to a teacher in another school, and buying eyeliner and mascara for my German teacher, who one time came to class with only one eye done."


25."I remember being in first grade and the principal saying a prayer over the intercom because the US had just entered into the Gulf War."


26."1987: My guidance counselor told me to drop my computer class and take home economics— something useful and appropriate to help me attract a husband. When I said I wanted classes that would prepare me for university, she couldn't understand why I'd go to college if I didn't have to."


27."My first country school in the '40s had an outhouse. It was really cold in the winter and really smelly in warm weather."


28."In the mid-60s, I was in the fourth grade, and while learning about weights and measures, they would weigh the lightest and the heaviest students in front of the class so we could figure out the difference."


And finally...

29."Back in the '80s, my elementary school would use fifth graders as crossing guards. We 10-year-olds legit stood there in our bright orange safety belts and were fully expected to stop traffic and guide younger kids safely across the street. My mind was blown the first time I saw a 'grown up' crossing guard."


Adults who went to school in the '70s— what "normal" things used to happen that are unheard of today? Let us know in the comments below, or use this Google Form to remain anonymous.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length/clarity.