27 Normal Things Every '80s Kid Did in School That Would Never Fly Today

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When you walk into your child’s school, there are probably a few things that seem familiar – desks, books, teachers – but there are probably even more things that make you feel like an overgrown fish out of water (smartboards?!). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though; in fact, some of the practices modern-day schools have ditched in the name of educational progress (or just individual safety) definitely won’t be missed!

(Photo: Getty Images)

1. Pick Valentines


Remember the horrible feeling of NOT getting a valentine from your grade school crush? With some schools banning the holiday entirely and others implementing all-or-nothing valentine policies (read: bring in valentines for EVERYBODY in class or no one at all), hurt feelings are now a thing of the past.
Image via Janet/Flickr

2. Supervise Other Kids


Remember when “big” kids were considered responsible enough to supervise younger students during recess? One Connecticut mom recalls being charged with stopping cars from pulling into her school’s parking lot during recess – when she was in the 6th grade! Um, what could go wrong?!
Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr

3. Clap Erasers


Whether as a punishment or a privilege, many of us remember being sent out to clap erasers (and coughing on clouds of chalk dust in the process!), but not our kids. Nowadays, smartboards and whiteboards are largely taking the place of the once ubiquitous blackboards. They’re definitely less messy!
Image via alkruse24/Flickr

4. Make Ashtrays in Art Class


What’s the perfect Mother’s Day gift? Why, a handmade ashtray, of course! What’s the perfect Father’s Day gift? Why, a handmade ashtray, of course! What’s the perfect (you get the idea). Not only is smoking in general frowned upon much more now than it was when we were kids, smoking in (or even near!) schools is banned in almost every state.
Image via iStock.com/Ulrich Knaupe

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5. Take Gender-Specific Classes


Sure, schools still have home economics and shop classes, but now boys and girls are welcome to take either. Back in the day, “Home Ec” was strictly for girls, while shop was considered strictly boy stuff. (Cause that’s so practical.)
Image via iStock.com/timmy

6. Play Dodgeball


How many of us still wake up in a cold sweat, plagued by nightmares about being pelted with hard rubber balls? It’s a good thing nobody really liked dodgeball, because it’s largely being eradicated in schools due to concerns about its “violent,” “cruel” nature.
Image via iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

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7. Play War Games


Remember playing “cowboys and Indians” on the playground? Politically incorrect much? While the rules of this outdated game were generally vague (lots of running around, making “woo-woo” and gunshot noises), kids today generally aren’t allowed to play “cowboys and Indians” … not to mention “cops and robbers” or any army-type games as they “promote violence.” Even pretending to shoot another student with your finger has gotten kids in districts across the country in trouble thanks to zero tolerance weapons and violence policies. And forget a massive water fight on a hot day at the end of the school. Even bringing a water gun to school can get you suspended these days.
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8. Shoot Real Guns


Believe it or not, some schools used to actually encourage kids to shoot guns! “My school had a rifle range in the basement when I was a kid. I don’t know when they got rid of it, but sometimes you’d hear shooting during the school day when I was really little,” remembers one New York state mom, while another recalls her classmates shooting small animals in the parking lot after school had let out. While laws differ from state to state, the vast majority of schools today are gun-free zones.
Image via iStock.com/Ryhor Bruyeu

9. Get Signed Out of School By Your Friend’s Mom


Remember when you and your pal could make a plan for a playdate during recess and you could just go home with her mom at the end of the day?
Now that most schools have implemented policies ensuring “safe routes” home (kids can usually only be picked up from school by a parent or other pre-approved guardian/caretaker), and custody battles have forced schools to take strict stances even on family members picking kids up from school, that likely wouldn’t happen. Not without a signed note from mom, at least!
Image via iStock

10. Teenagers Driving School Buses


Believe it or not, until 1988, 16 and 17-year-old kids were allowed to be hired as school bus drivers in North and South Carolina! This insane policy was finally changed after a 17-year-old ran over and killed a 4-year-old with a school bus.
You can officially strike this off the list of possible after school jobs for your teen.
Image via ThoseGuys119/Flickr

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11. Bring Cupcakes for Birthdays


Thanks to skyrocketing food allergy and childhood obesity rates, baking birthday cupcakes for your kid to bring to school isn’t a given anymore. Some schools have banned the practice entirely, while others only allow certain non-allergenic and/or healthy treats.
Image via Andy/Flickr

12. Buy Soda from the Cafeteria Vending Machines


What would Michelle Obama say?! Before the “Smart Snacks in Schools” nutrition standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 banned soda and other junk foods in school vending machines, a handful of change could (and often did) add a bellyful of corn syrup to the average student’s lunch!
Image via iStock

13. Wear “Indian” Costumes


Who doesn’t remember dressing up like pilgrims and “Indians” for Thanksgiving plays? Not anymore: Construction paper headdresses are largely a thing of the past, as the tradition is now considered offensive. Many schools have even forbidden the practice.
Image via iStock.com/McIninch

14. Bring Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches


With more and more schools banning peanut products in classrooms and cafeterias, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are no longer the lunchbox staple they once were (much to the dismay of many parents and kids).
Image via Matias Garabedian/Flickr

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15. Sniff Glue and Markers


Back when toxic art supplies were more commonplace in schools, kids could (and did) get high off of glue and marker fumes whenever they got bored (which is to say, all day!). The Ramones even wrote a song about it.
Image via imelda/Flickr

16. Bring a Swiss Army Knife to School


With most schools adopting “zero tolerance” policies on any and all weapons, the days of kids bringing their handy all-in-one Swiss Army Knives to school are long behind us.
Image via James Case/Flickr

17. Walk to School


Now that parents can be charged with “unsubstantiated neglect” for letting thier kids walk home from the park (really, it happened to a Maryland family), fewer and fewer kids are making their way home from school alone. One mom in Texas was even arrested for letting her kids play alone outside, so you can’t blame parents for being a little overcautious!
Image via Elizabeth/Flickr

18. Sit “Indian Style”


When we were kids, we never sat “criss cross applesauce” – it was “Indian style,” all the way! Thanks to schools becoming more sensitive to the plight of Native Americans, this term has largely been ditched (which is why your kids give you that blank stare when you slip and say it out loud).
Image via iStock.com/Susan Chiang

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19. Play Tetherball


In 2011, the New York Department of Health included tetherball on a list of games that pose a “significant risk of injury” (along with wiffleball, red rover, dodgeball, kickball, freeze tag, and capture the flag). We’re not sure we agree with the freeze tag and wiffleball thing, but tetherball can get pretty vicious (which is why it’s now largely absent from school playgrounds everywhere, not just in New York).
Image via iStock.com/eyecrave

20. Write Lines on the Board as Punishment


It wasn’t just Bart Simpson who was forced to write lines on the blackboard because he did something wrong – lots of us were in the same boat! The consequence seems to have fallen out of favor with teachers in recent years, however, as we couldn’t find any evidence of it happening lately.
Image via iStock.com/Neustockimages

21. Climb Trees


Sure, climbing trees can be dangerous – that’s why so many schools have banned the activity on campus (nobody wants to risk a lawsuit like that!). In 2014, two 10-year-old boys were able to overturn their school’s “no climbing” policy … but alas, that was in New Zealand.
Image via iStock.com/aspen rock

22. Line Up According to Gender


Remember lining up for recess and dismissal in two separate rows: one for boys, one for girls? This is another somewhat archaic practice one we don’t hear about these days (and what was the point, anyway?).
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23. Get Candy As a Reward


Everybody knows kids do what you want them to if you promise them candy – so it’s no wonder teachers used to reward good behavior and academic progress with treats! Thanks to Michelle Obama’s efforts to remove junk food from schools, however, this isn’t done as often anymore; one teacher was recently fined for giving her students candy prizes.
Image via maximillion2009/Flickr

24. Pick Teams in Gym


We still have nightmares about being the last one picked for kickball in gym, so is it any wonder most schools no longer let kids choose their own teammates? Talk about a popularity contest! Non-athletic types could count on being left out, and with students in charge, teams were rarely balanced. Good riddance to this humiliating practice!
Image via iStock.com/FlairImages

25. Call Teachers “Mrs.” or “Miss”


Once upon a time, a female teacher was either married (“Mrs.”) or unmarried (“Miss”), and whether or not she was single was considered everybody’s business. Now, most women teachers opt for “Ms.,” regardless of marital status (some even asked to be called by their first name). (“Mr.,” of course, hasn’t changed.)
Image via Selbe/Flickr

26. Stand in the Corner


Kids weren’t forced to wear dunce caps anymore in the 80’s, but everybody remembers hearing the words “Go stand in the corner!” Now, however, standing the corner is widely considered to be a cruel and even corporal punishment.
Image via iStock.com/ia_64

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27. Leave School for Lunch


Ditching campus for lunch was commonplace back when we were in high school (if you didn’t have a car, chances you knew somebody who did!). Not so much anymore, though: Many schools have banned this policy in an effort to prevent car accidents and/or other types of teenage trouble.
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