How Schools have Changed in the Past 100 Years

In most aspects of life and society there have been many changes in the last 100 years. One such area of change has been in education and there are significant differences between the classroom of 100 years ago and the classroom as it is today. Here is a look at some of the differences in education between these two periods of time.


One of the most noticeable differences between schools of 100 years ago in comparison to the modern day classroom is the types of punishment used and when discipline is administered. For example, in past times a child was expected to be seen and not heard while now students are actively encouraged to be vocal in lessons and to play a great role in participating in their education. Modern day punishments include detentions, removal of privileges and exclusion from school. Previous punishments included everything from writing lines on the board to actual physical discipline, such as caning.


The curriculum has made significant changes throughout history and this is apparent when looking at the differences between school curriculum 100 years ago and those that are offered now. 100 years ago children were taught a much more limited curriculum that offered the basics such as reading, writing and arithmetic. Additional subjects were offered but were often dependent upon the academic ability of the child. Another difference is that boys and girls were taught separate subject based on what society at that time believed to be relevant and appropriate. For example, girls were taught cooking and needlework while boys had lessons in wood work. The modern curriculum offers a greater diversity in subjects and students of both sexes are offered the same opportunities. Another difference is the teaching of ICT as this was a non-existent subject 100 years ago and is now considered to be an essential part of day-to-day life with a great influence on future job prospects.

Classroom equipment

100 years ago a teacher’s equipment included a chalk, a blackboard and their own subject knowledge. The pupils’ equipment would usually consist of simply a pen or pencil and paper or a workbook. A current classroom offers a wide range of equipment that is greatly influenced by technology. Items such as a whiteboard and computers are commonplace and have extended learning opportunities for students. The equipment that is required by pupils is also much more extensive. Parents often receive letters listing the essential equipment that is required for each year.

Teaching style

The way that teachers teach their students has also changed over the past 100 years. Over the years there has been a gradual move towards pupils playing a greater role in their own education and having input into lessons. Teachers are also more focused on the individual needs and learning styles of their students. Lessons are less teacher led as there is a lesser proportion of the lesson with the teacher relaying information to students and more focus on students researching subjects themselves.


Throughout history segregation in the classroom has been rife with some groups of people not being educated at all. Examples include separate education for people of different races and religions, single sex schools and different schools for the rich and the poor. Modern day education is much more inclusive in most countries, such as the US and UK, although some families still opt for particular schools based on factors such as their religious teachings. However, in some cultures segregation is not only still in existence it is actually encouraged.

Education has seen many changes in the last 100 years and many people would argue that these changes have been for the greater good of the students. Examples of changes include teaching style, classroom equipment, the curriculum and less segregation in schools.