The 1950’s were a time of great change in the United States. One of the most significant changes was the increasing importance placed on education. High schools became increasingly common, and teachers were seen as more important role models for young people.
Education was seen as a way to get ahead in life, and many students worked hard to achieve good grades. School life in the 1950’s was very different from what it is today. Teachers were stricter and classrooms were more disciplined. Students had to wear uniforms and follow a strict code of conduct. There was much less freedom, but also a feeling of community and camaraderie among classmates.
The 1950s were a decade of more difficult life for students than today, owing to the fact that schools were few and lacking. Teachers were stricter, and corporal punishment was still used. They had fewer subjects to choose from as well as poverty, prejudice, sexism, and racism meant they could only do certain activities.
Girls couldn’t do science or maths and boys couldn’t do home economics. There were also fewer extracurricular activities.
Students in the 1950’s had to wake up early to get to school on time. They didn’t have buses so they had to walk or ride their bikes. They also had to wear uniforms which were often uncomfortable and not stylish.
School wasn’t just about academics in the 1950’s, it was also about preparing for life after school. Students were taught how to be good citizens and how to be productive members of society. They were also taught how to get along with others and how to resolve conflicts.
Overall, school life in the 1950’s was different from today but it wasn’t necessarily better or worse. It just depended on what you were looking for in a school experience.
After World War 2, a baby boom occurred, and as a result, schools were quickly becoming full in the 1950s. Enrollments increased by 30% during the ‘baby-boomers’ decade. There were 166 437 primary and secondary schools in the United States in 1950 to educate 29 million pupils.
This was a massive undertaking and as a result the quality of education varied greatly from school to school.
There were also a lot of new schools being built during this time to try and keep up with the demand. This meant that in some areas, particularly rural areas, the schools were very old and in poor condition. In general, though, the 1950’s was a time of growth for education in America.
The average high school teacher earned around $3,700 per year in 1950 which is equivalent to around $36,000 today. This was a good wage considering the cost of living at the time but it was still below what many other professions earned.
Teachers were also required to have a college degree in order to teach in the 1950’s. This was not always the case, however, as there were many ‘emergency teachers’ who did not have a degree but were certified to teach. These teachers were usually only temporary and would only stay for a year or two until a qualified teacher could be found.
The curriculum in the 1950’s was much different than it is today. The focus was on traditional subjects such as math, science, English, history, and foreign languages. There was also a strong emphasis on rote learning and memorization.
Students were expected to dress neatly and conservatively for school. Boys typically wore khaki pants and white shirts while girls wore skirts or dresses.
School life in the 1950’s was very different than it is today but it was also a time of great growth and change for education in America.
The schools and resources declined as the number of students increased. In 1953, the Office of Education reported that there was a shortage of 345 000 classrooms, indicating overcrowding in 60% of America’s classrooms and up to 20% of schools failing to meet basic safety standards.
The high schools were not the only places struggling with budget cuts. Teachers’ salaries had been cut during World War II, and even after the war they remained low. In 1950, the average salary for a teacher was $2,987, which is about $30,000 in today’s currency.
This put a lot of stress on teachers who already had to deal with overcrowded classrooms and students who were falling behind. In some cases, teachers resorted to creative methods of teaching, such as holding classes in hallways or using chalkboards that were hung on the walls.
Despite all of the challenges, teachers persevered and found ways to adapt. They continued to give their best to their students, even in difficult circumstances.
The situation in the schools was only made worse for African-Americans. Their schools were separated from those of the white population, and they were poorly funded by the government.
“By 1950, inequality in educational success between white students and minority students had increased since 1900, when relatively few Americans or people of different races or genders attended high school, and formal learning was barely a consideration in national economic and social life,” according to historians Mondale and Patton.
The statistics below show how education inequality was a big issue in America and how it still is today.
-In 1950, 78% of white males graduated from high school while only 47% of black males graduated.
-For white females the number was 60% and for black females it was 31%.
-The gap between white and black students has not changed much since then. In 2012, 86% of white students graduated from high school while only 68% of black students did.
-Hispanic students have made great strides since 1970 when only 42% graduated from high school. In 2012, 71% of Hispanics graduated.
-Despite these improvements, significant disparities remain between different groups. White and Asian students are more likely to graduate from high school than black, Hispanic, and American Indian students.
High school graduation rates are just one way to measure educational disparities. Another is to look at the percentage of students who go on to college. In 1950, only 9% of 25- to 29-year-olds had completed four or more years of college. By 2009, that number had risen to 27%. But again, there are significant disparities among different groups. In 2009, 36% of Asians 25 to 29 years old had completed four or more years of college compared with 24% of whites, 14% of Hispanics, and 10% of blacks.
As can be seen from the statistics, minority groups have always been at a disadvantage when it comes to education. This is because of the inequality in funding for schools as well as the racism that was prevalent in America at the time. Although there has been some progress made since then, there is still a long way to go before everyone has equal opportunities when it comes to education.