High school kids have been in the news and many are quite impressive as far as the differences they are making in the world. It made me reminisce about 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 and Roy H. Williams, the authors talk about the chaotic system and show us how society experiences a shift in consciousness in 40-year cycles. Watch Michael’s Ted Talk here.
Much has changed since when I graduated high school (Class of 1971), especially in technology. 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 ’60s and ’70s 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 type text with machine-like precision. I only took a semester of typing, but I don’t have to look down at my keyboard to see what I punch in. Remember how white-out made you sort of high?
Home Economics (Home Ec)
I loved Home Ec and took sewing and cooking. Between that and my mom who was a dressmaker, I can hem a skirt, fix a button, or work with a pattern if I’m forced to. Sewing class gave me a better appreciation of how well-designed clothes are made and how to handle a sewing machine.
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. The boys loved it too and guys who cook are sexy, at least to me, anyway.
When we took math classes it was before calculators unless you count the abacus. You had to actually learn to add and subtract. It wasn’t my favorite subject even though I got B’s. Unfortunately, I can’t remember any of it now, especially algebra and geometry because I never had a reason to use it.
We never learned how to do practical things like balance a checkbook. My Dad taught me that. Even today, there are a few high school classes that teach practical math. Today, I 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 now. 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
Reading some of my classmate’s 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. I only took a semester of grammar because we had more exciting choices like “Writing for Fantasy and Science Fiction” “Beach Sports” and “Basket Weaving.”
Thank goodness I use Grammarly or my blog posts would be embarrassing. Still, English and literature were some of my favorite high school classes.
Whenever one of my kid’s Grandmothers wrote a note to them, I had to translate because they couldn’t read her cursive writing. Even today, their signatures are scribbled.
Our high school had a farm with animals and some kids belonged to the 4 H Club. The funny thing was the school was near a beach town in Southern California. I don’t many students ever became farmers.
When we were in high school the news was all about hippies, protests, and the War in Vietnam. Much of that was reflected in our school newspaper.
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 checked them out from the school librarian so you could work on your report. Then you used those references to add footnotes with weird notations like  Ibid and Op.cit. I never used them again after college.
I’m so glad we can go now just Google it.
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 down some steps a while back, I hold on for dear life and, as we’re all much older, 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?
What high school classes helped you to become who you are today? Please leave a comment below.