It was inspiring to watch the Parkland students so articulately express their thoughts after the horrendous shooting they personally experienced. Their debate classes paid off. Now they are making a huge difference in the political landscape even though some “adults” protest they should have stayed in class and have even threatened them with bodily harm. It made me think of the high school classes we took in the 60’s and 70’s.
As much as younger generations like to blast Baby Boomers and call them selfish or narcissistic, we made a difference in the world as well. In the book, Pendulum, by Michael Drew, the author talks about the chaotic system and shows us how society experiences a shift in consciousness in 40-year cycles. Watch his Ted Talk here.
Much has changed since when I graduated high school (Class of 1971), especially technologically. However, our high school classes may have given us an edge into the future. I thought it would be fun to look back at what we learned.
High School Classes we took growing up
Typewriters are now antiques but most women in the 60’s and 70’s were expected to be secretaries if they didn’t end up as housewives. Typing class taught us to use a keyboard with 2 hands! While everyone else is pecking away with one tired finger, we can zoom through paragraphs like nobody’s business. I only took a semester of typing, but I don’t have to look down at my keyboard to see what I punch in. I don’t miss white-out, though. Talk about getting high!
Home Economics (Home Ec)
I loved Home Ec and took sewing and cooking. Between that and my mom who was a dressmaker, I know how to hem a skirt, fix a button, and work with a pattern. (If I’m forced to) I have a better appreciation of well-designed clothes and know how to thread a sewing machine. It’s not something I enjoy doing, and I can’t thread a needle without reading glasses, but I can sew up an outfit in a pinch.
Our cooking classes in Home Ec were all girls until my senior year. Then, the boys joined in. We all loved it because we got to eat what we cooked at the end of class. That was before microwaves. To this day, I think boys who cook are sexy.
Math class was pre-calculator. You had to actually learn to add and subtract. It wasn’t my favorite subject even though I got B’s. I can’t remember any of it, especially algebra and geometry because I never had a reason to use it. We didn’t learn how to do practical things like balance a checkbook. My Dad taught me that. Even today, there are few high school classes that teach practical math. I’m glad I can use a computer program to keep track of my expenses.
My first job was as a cashier at A & W Root Beer. The cash register didn’t tell you how to make change like it does today. I couldn’t count on my fingers fast enough and ended up getting fired. My Dad was a genius at math but somehow it didn’t make it into my DNA.
English and Grammar
Considering a certain old fart who can’t spell when he tweets, and some of my classmates Facebook posts, you’d think grammar was never taught in school. But most people our age took it. Our school was conducting an experiment at the time I was there. It was called Flexible scheduling. We could choose our classes in blocks just like college. Somehow, I only took a semester of grammar because we had more exciting offers like “Writing for Fantasy and Science Fiction” “Beach Sports” and “Basket Weaving.” Thank goodness I use Grammarly or my blog posts would be embarrassing. It’s still a challenge. English and literature were my favorite high school classes.
I had to translate Grandma’s letters to my kids because they couldn’t read her cursive writing. It was beautifully written but they couldn’t decipher it. Their signatures look like a scribble and I don’t know how their bank can tell it’s really them on a check.
Our school had a farm with farm animals and some kids belonged to the 4 H Club. We lived in a beach town (Costa Mesa) in Orange County near Newport Beach. I always found that somewhat amusing. I don’t think we have many farmer alumni from my school.
Our school newspaper was being written during the time of protests, hippies, and turmoil. Sounds like now. Journalism still lives and our first amendment rights have always been important and necessary.
Remember the Dewey decimal system? You had to open little drawers and plow through card files to find a book you were looking for. Then you had to check it out and read it to finish a report. Oh, and don’t forget you had to add footnotes with weird notations like  Ibid and Op.cit.
I’m so glad we can go to Google and cite using a link.
Other Activities we took part in
Charm School wasn’t offered in high school, but I took a class at our local Sears store. It was taught by a neighbor of ours who was a former model. She taught us the importance of washing our faces every morning and night and I’ve always been diligent. She also taught us to hold onto the rail and gently glide down a staircase. After taking a tumble off a set of steps a couple years ago, I’ve been holding on for dear life ever since. I suggest we all do the same.
Our school had several clubs but the only one I was a member of was Drama Club. I won the Bank of America Award for Outstanding Student in Drama the year I graduated.
Most of the “popular” girls belonged to clubs like “Girl’s League.” They did “do’s and don’t’s fashion shows, organized the Christmas formal and held a slumber party in the gym for all the girls. Don’t they look cute? I wonder if their fashion choice was a do or a don’t?
Those were the good old days.
What high school classes helped you to become who you are today? Please leave a comment below.