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18 Things You Won’t Find in Schools Anymore

Updated: Sep. 01, 2023

As things evolve, so does the way students are taught, and that means classrooms look a lot different than they did even 20 years ago.

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Alarm clock on top of books with school supplies on wooden table. Back to school conceptual image.

Schools have changed so much over the years

The good old days of going to school and playing dodgeball or writing cursive on the chalkboard are long gone. Now, you won’t find a number of these things and plenty of others in schools anymore. And that’s not the only place where things are disappearing. In a few years, these things in your home won’t exist anymore. So take a look back at some of the now vintage items no longer in schools.

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Vintage 1940's rubber stamped library book check out card over head view
Michelle Patrick/Shutterstock

Library check-out cards

Do you remember checking the list of names on the check-out card in the back of your library book to see if you knew anyone on it? It was always exciting to find the name of a friend or maybe an older sibling. School libraries are run a little bit differently nowadays. Most schools have digital systems that librarians use to check books in and out and easily track when books are overdue. Some schools even have automated self-checkout systems that allow students to scan their books out themselves.

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detailed black chalkboard fragment with two chalk pieces
Yury Zap/Shutterstock


Chalkboards have been replaced by whiteboards, and, in some schools, Smart Boards, to help incorporate technology into teaching. Smart Boards allow teachers to create interactive lesson plans and have access to online resources for students. No one really liked dusty chalk anyway. If these things were in your classroom growing up, you might have also taken one of these school subjects that aren’t taught anymore.

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Retro video cassettes on gray wooden background. Top view on front sides. Back to the past and multimedia concept, copy space, flat lay

AV carts

Remember cheering with joy when you saw a substitute teacher roll in an AV cart with a television strapped to the top because you knew you were going to have a movie day? Instead of rolling shared TVs from classroom to classroom, most schools have a projector in each room. Technology changes so fast, which is why Gen Z will never use any of these everyday products in their lifetime, either.

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Old wooden card catalogue with one opened drawer

Card catalogs

Students no longer have to sift through the tiny drawers to find a particular book or source of information for a research paper anymore. Everything is available through a few clicks on the Internet.

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Calligraphy on a white sheet of paper, background
Botyev Volodymyr/Shutterstock

Cursive writing

You won’t see students’ names drawn out in cursive on the cover of their notebooks or at the top of their worksheets anymore. Some states still have it as part of their curriculum, but most are now putting the focus on technology. More communication is sent via technology than handwritten letters, so students need to know how to navigate the Web instead of learning how to connect their letters. It’s a shame that fewer kids learn how to write cursive since handwriting makes you smarter.

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old pencil sharpener out of order,vintage wall

Wall pencil sharpeners

Wall-mounted pencil sharpeners were always a pain—even for students 100 years ago. You either sharpened your pencil unevenly or the metal part would detach, and all of the pencil shavings would spill on the floor. Most students are probably thankful they have mechanical ones now.

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Korean High school classroom
DONGSEON KIM/Shutterstock

Traditional desks

Just a few years ago, most students all had identical desks with a tan top and a ridge to hold their pencil. Now, more and more schools are starting to incorporate different types of seating arrangements for their students to enhance learning. Some schools have standing desks and others are using tables.

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colorful playground balls
Ory Gonian/Shutterstock


Ahh, the stress relief that comes along with slamming a ball at your classmates’ faces during gym period. Well today, you won’t hear about many students playing this aggressive game during P.E. The sport doesn’t “support a positive school climate” so many schools banned it. Things are also always changing in people’s homes—you probably won’t find these 9 things in your home ten years from now.

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World population density at the end of 19th century, old map. By Paul Vidal de Lablache, Atlas Classique, Librerie Colin, Paris, 1894 (first edition)

Pull-down maps

Back in the day, many teachers had a set of pull-down maps hanging above their whiteboards or chalkboard. During geography or history class, the maps would get pulled down so students could see where things took place and learn the location of all the states. Now, a quick image can be pulled up on the teacher’s computer and displayed on the board through a projector. Today, students are more concerned about learning Google maps tricks.

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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.
J.Robert Williams/Shutterstock

Projectors with plastic sheets

To display math problems or vocabulary words in a large font on the board, teachers would use projectors and clear sheets of plastic that could easily be cleaned between lessons. Now it’s becoming more common for teachers to use iPads or Surface devices to write on a screen that is then projected at the front of the classroom. It’s common knowledge that technology is popular in schools, but these things your child’s teacher wants you to know might shock you.

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black and white clock on light wooden wall with shiny on the wall, ten past ten o'clockconcept : late appointment, late morning, wake up late,

Analog clocks

Kids have so much technology around them that many don’t even know how to read an analog clock. Some schools are removing analog clocks and replacing them with digital ones because students can’t read them to figure out how much time is left when taking standardized tests. Many teachers still agree, though, that learning how to read an analog clock is a very important lesson. Sometimes, the things you’re taught can change as well, like these 20 facts you learned in school that are no longer true.

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metal lunch box
Food And Drink/Shutterstock

Metal lunchboxes

Not everyone had a Beatles lunchbox growing up, but most people had some sort of metal lunchbox they brought to school. That gave way to the brown paper bag for those who brought lunch from home. These days some of those lunchboxes can be worth money.

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chalk holder music staff
via amazon.com

Vintage chalk holders

If you were a music kid, you’ll remember seeing an old chalk holder, even if you haven’t thought about it for years. Teachers loved it when they had to write out music on the chalkboard. Unfamiliar with chalk holders? See if you can guess what these other antique tools were for. 

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J_R Images/Shutterstock

Compasses and protractors

Boy, geometry was a pain when you had to draw a circle. Even though you had a compass and a protractor, that compass could get wild and tear up your paper in a hurry if you weren’t careful. Sentimental for the school days? Thank an old teacher for the math lessons you actually use in real life.

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Graphing calculators

At a certain point, graphing calculators became required items for math class. Mom and Dad didn’t like having to dole out the cash for the expensive item but you learned how to use mathematic formulas. For the really savvy, they learned how to add games to their graphing calculator. These days you can do just about anything on your phone. There are plenty of hidden iPhone hacks to help you figure out the tip or make other calculations.

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Korrakit Pinsrisook/Shutterstock

Paper cutters

When’s the last time you had to cut some paper? You likely used the old paper cutter for a number of things in school like art class or whenever you needed smaller graph paper. Kids these days might not recognize this vintage paper cutter, or what these antique objects were used for.

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Young adult casually dressed male student at desk with laptop computer.

Trapper Keepers

Trapper Keepers were all the rage for students to stay organized. These days, almost every kid carries around an iPad instead. Worried about digital devices in schools? Find out exactly why technology is making you stupid.

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Brad Sauter/Shutterstock


Kids used to carry around a thermos to school on those cold winter days. Parents filled them with hot cocoa or soup that they could enjoy at lunchtime. These days, there are a lot more insulated coolers carried around that will keep food hot or cold. Wondering what else has changed since your school days? Find out the facts you learned in school that are no longer true.