Educational Methods Used On You, Which Would Not Fly Today

Heh. In my school, people would have worn it as a mark of pride - in fact, I’m reasonably sure that certain smartasses would have come to school wearing their own twine from home.

We did an 8th grade language arts section on slavery (growing up in Iowa in the 90s). The culmination was watching part of Roots and participating in a couple of slave auctions - one as a buyer, the other as a slave.
I loved that teacher, but looking back, I can’t imagine what the everloving fuck she was thinking.

Well, how did it go down? Maybe she was thinking it would get you guys to understand how wrong slavery was. I’ve heard about schools doing experiments like that: dividing the students into castes, so to speak, with the visible-minority kids mostly being the ruling class. Or switching gender roles, or both. If it’s done right, it can be truly a learning experience. How was it done?

I know of one teacher that taught the students about discrimination by picking on students with non-brown eyes. Wouldn’t call on them, graded their answers more harshly, made them go last for lunch, etc. All they needed was one student with blue or green eyes that had a strong-willed parent that did not agree with the teaching method and that teacher is toast.

My elementary school gym had a ceiling that looked like the surface of the moon, and there were dozens of pencils in it. If you could toss a pencil up there and it stuck, you were cool, and if you could get a chunk of said ceiling to fall to the floor, you were Da Bomb.

At some point in the 1980s, a few years after I moved on to junior high, a removal crew came in and removed that ceiling, because it was made of asbestos, and replaced it with wood.

Also, it’s hard to make an ash tray wrong. It’s not like a plate. It doesn’t have to be particularly flat, it doesn’t have to be even on all sides, it doesn’t have to match 3 other ash trays, if it has child-finger-sized bumps in the ridge, that’s ok, that’s where the cigarettes go. It’s kind of a perfect elementary school art project, except the whole promoting lung cancer thing.

In metalwork I made a poker and in woodwork, a candlestick.

Making paddles in shop class. Then sanding and varnishing them for later use in beating your ass.

That was a fad teaching method. I remember it being discussed in a national magazine. See:

My high school had some sort of “Social Studies/Psychology” class. The teacher had the class members do experiments on the rest of the student body.

Place a door (in a doorframe) that spanned the sidewalk outside of the school. Observe how many people opened the door and walked through versus how many walked around it onto the grass.

Have one class member steal a candy bar from the cafeteria in plain view of others. See how the others reacted.

Have a class member sweeping the sidewalk outside of the school entry door. If any other student walked by, give them a soft whack with the broom.

etc. etc. etc.

I don’t know what these things were supposed to prove. For the rest of us, we didn’t know if we were attending high school, in an episode of “The Prisoner”, or if Allen Funt was hanging around somewhere with his candid camera.

For years afterward, I wish I had gotten together with friends and thrown monkeywrenches into the works: Move the door to the grass or take it away . Announce loudly that I would pay for the candy bar. Show up in the class as a group with brooms and give the teacher payback. Oh well, in my authoritarian high school I would have just been marked down as a troublemaker.

I had a college psych 101 course in which we were supposed to do something similar on the general public. (Approximately 1970.)

We were supposed to go into town and do something considered socially shocking and note reactions. I got together with a couple of other students; one of us dressed up with padding to make her appear pregnant but wore no wedding ring, another posed as her male partner, the third as a casual bystander; we all went into a store where the “couple” tried to buy something (I forget what) and the third person (I think this was me) went up to the clerk after they left and asked in a scandalized tone whether that had been an unmarried pregnant couple.

IIRC, got an entirely “meh” reaction; which may have been due to the clerk not caring whether pregnant people were married or not, or to our being bad at acting and/or costuming, or to too many students coming into town trying to do psych 101 experiments with the result that people were on to us in general.

Maybe you were all just too WEIRD:

The over-sampling of American college students may be skewing our understanding of human behavior, finds an analysis by researchers from the University of British Columbia. In a forthcoming issue of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, anthropologist Joe Henrich, PhD, and psychologists Steven Heine, PhD, and Ara Norenzayan, PhD, review the available database of comparative social and behavioral science studies. They found that people from Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD) societies — who represent as much as 80 percent of study participants, but only 12 percent of the world’s population — are not only unrepresentative of humans as a species, but on many measures they’re outliers.

(Eh, you covered it in your last point, I just find the acronym particularly inspired.)

A few instances where I think what happened might be considered “too much” today:

In high school in the 1980s I’ve seen chalk thrown at a popular student who used to debate pretty much everything with the teacher, but it was a good-natured throw.

Also at this high school, in Physics class, the teacher got a volunteer to hold his hand on a Vandegraaf generator (I think; it had the large metal ball on top) until his straight, fine hair all stood on end. The most he did was giggle with embarrassment.

Most surprising was in elementary school (small town in southern WI in mid 1970s), when my friend actually got his mouth washed out with soap for profanity. I had heard of this, and was fascinated as to how it actually worked. He was moved over to the sink and at one point was asked to put a sliver of soap into his mouth, spit it out, etc. Weird. And unfortunately, he was the only black kid in the class, and these days I wonder if that was a factor.

Last story: I was in the hiking club when I was an exchange student to Japan in 1986. At one point we got onto the roof via some maintenance closet stairs, and rigged up some ropes and pulleys, helmets etc. and rappelled down the side of the building. (Past the sewing club, IIRC, which was kind of fun.) This isn’t that dangerous per se, but overprotective types might object to doing this on school grounds these days.

I would be very surprised if teachers no longer did this demonstration. Its quite harmless as long as you don’t remove your hand from the globe.

Yeah…my sense is that such demos are harmless if you do it right, with correct equipment and procedures etc. But similar to the (false) idea that society is somehow more dangerous these days compared to 3-4 decades ago, I can easily imagine over-protective types imposing rules to prevent such a demo today.

That reminded me: Our High School chemistry class instructor had the class set up a tabletop chlorine gas generator. While putting it together I thought that some of the students weren’t paying enough attention to sealing the joints between the glass components. (Since I was a newcomer to the school, I didn’t say anything.) After it started up - I got a good whiff of gas and had to leave the room to try and get few lungfuls of clean air. The instructor gave me a quizzical look.