School Experiences Baby Boomers Had That Are Gone Forever

Interior of stylish empty classroom with backpacks and stationery

School Experiences Baby Boomers Had That Are Gone Forever

Over the last half-century, the concept of school has changed both a lot and not at all. This said, there is no question that the rise of personal and consumer technology has impacted schools forever. For baby boomers, life before computers was both simpler and arguably more difficult.

Turning in a thousand-word paper written by hand as opposed to being typed on Microsoft Word is a quite different experience. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some school experiences baby boomers had that are gone forever.

Using a Globe

Globe sphere orb model effigy. (vintage style)
Unfortunately, schools no longer use a globe as Google Earth is much easier.

Try as we might, finding a globe in a classroom today is going to be pretty challenging. However, for baby boomers, before Google Maps and Google Earth, globes were all the rage. When it was time for a geography lesson, teachers would grab a globe and spin it around to find the right location. Today, interactive maps and Google Earth have all but replaced this once wonderful classroom tool.

Paper Report Cards

close up of old school report card
Long gone are the days of handwritten report cards.

If you are a baby boomer, there is a better-than-good chance you had a report card handwritten by your teacher. No matter what, these handwritten grades came home with you. If they were bad, your parents were not happy but if your grades were good, ice cream usually followed. Today, grades are almost entirely online and available with just a few clicks.

Rolodex Contacts

Rolodex file organizer sitting open on an office desk, angled view with gray cubicle partition behind.
Before keeping their contacts in a smartphone, baby boomers used a Rolodex.

Well before the internet, teachers and baby boomers alike kept organized with contacts by using a Rolodex machine. It was a sure thing to find one of these contraptions on the desk of a teacher or administrator. The days of completely analog parent info are long gone and have been replaced by an online directory. This makes it super easy for teachers to find parents and vice versa.

Overhead Projectors

A vintage overhead projector sit on a roller cart lighting a wall ready to show overhead projection transparencies. Overhead projectors were often used in school & business before digital projection.
The use of overhead projectors in a classroom was commonplace for baby boomers.

Okay, so overhead projectors are not completely gone, but they are not as widely used as they were for baby boomers. In today’s school system, you have smartboards and projectors that have eliminated the need for overhead projectors. Simply stated, the overhead projector was a less-than-perfect system that was hardly interactive.

Library Research

Books in public library, shallow DOF.
With the internet so easily available, it’s hard to sit in a library and do research.

Like the overhead projector, library research feels like it’s been diminished so much since the birth of the internet. You can now find the same amount of data in a few minutes on the internet as you would in a few hours at a library. You also don’t need to worry about index cards and catalog numbers anymore since everything is just easier to find these days.


classic movie machine (toned black and white)
Watching a movie with a DVD is so much better than using a filmstrip.

When you played a movie in the baby boomer era, it mostly came through a whirring projector and the noise was unmistakable. You had flickering images on screen, which is a very different experience than what you see today. When I was a kid, it was all about the rolling TV stand but today it’s all about computers and DVDs.


Top view of a white penmanship board with the letters ABC written in red marker by a child
Kids these days are not taught penmanship anymore, even cursive is overlooked.

As much of the workforce required great handwriting during the baby boomer era, it wasn’t uncommon for penmanship classes to be offered. This was in addition to learning to write in cursive, a skill that is seemingly lost today. Especially for those entering the workforce as secretaries, penmanship skills were an absolute must to get hired.

Slide Rules

Before the days of the scientific calculator, a slide rule was the tool of choice.

Oh, what life was like before the days of TI (Texas Instrument) scientific calculators. Baby boomers had the joy of using slide rules, something kids these days couldn’t pick out of a crowd. You had to understand quite a bit about math to use one of these, but you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Download an app or buy an inexpensive scientific calculator and you have everything you need.

Mimeograph Machines

An old type mimeograph, Duplicating Machine.
To make a copy for a class, a teacher would use a mimeograph machine.

Long before the copy machine became a standard in schools everywhere, the mimeograph machine came to the rescue. This machine enabled teachers to make “photocopies” of classroom assignments. The challenge was that the copies would smell like ink and could easily smudge. Thankfully, today’s students will never know the pain of smudging ink.

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