# Did you teach or were you at school in 1960's/70's?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by fishtoe, Feb 7, 2009.

1. ### fishtoeNew commenter

We are having a 1960's/70's week next week. Just wondered if any one knows what they did in maths in those days? Can't really find much information on the web. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places.

Anyone have any memories?

Many thanks!

2. ### Hedda Gabler

I was still in Primary in early sixties.

We learned tables by rote and chanted. We were taught methods and not the concepts behind them.

We did sums, lots and lots. We copied sums from the board-no work books

We did a lot about tens and units using vertical sums.

We had paper coins in tobacco tins.

We spent a lot of time on money because there were 12d. to a shilling and 20 shillings to a £1 etc. and so adding up money was tricky and they taught us quick methods.

We knew about furlongs and chains and feet and inches.

We knew a lot about dozens and multiples of 12.

We did mental arithmetic daily.

3. ### bettyhen

I was at school then and agree with Hedda's perception of how it was. Mental arithmatic and tables stand out for me and spending at least an hour and a half a day doing sums with very little help from the teacher! We seemed to do lots of long division and multiplication. We did lots of fractions and decimals too but very little on shape and space other than what shapes were, the area of quadrilaterals and some stuff on perimeters. We did some basic algebra in the last year. We also did a lot of what we called 'problems' where the sum was given to you in a paragraph and you had to work out what the question wanted you to do.
We did have books called Alpha something or other but the less able classes (we were streamed) had Beta books! It was very dull apart from the algebra.

4. ### Ucan2

Learnt all times tables (up to 12 because there were 12 pennies in a shilling) by the time we were in juniors. Got wrapped on the knuckles with a ruler if we didn't line our numbers up correctly in column addition/subtraction. Did pages and pages of sums using 4 operations. Spent a lot of time learning how to add money because 12 pennies added to shilling then 20 shillings in a pound. Weights and measures equally difficult! Then spent years learning how to change them into metric ready for the big change over. In Y5 and 6 worked from a text book and answered own work from back of book (so just cheated most of the time!).

5. ### cathyd

Went to lots of different primary schools in the late 60s/early 70s 'cos Dad's job moved around a lot.

Rows of pairs of wooden desks with inkholes in - no ink thankfully, although my Mum was ink monitor when she was at school!

NO differentiation apart from the Alpha and Beta maths workbooks. Don't remember anyone actually TEACHING me how to do any of it, we just worked through it. Mind you, I do remember being taught how to do long division... because that wasn't in the book...

Learning the Times Tables by heart (or trying to) without ever once understanding what they might be useful for...

Lots of stuff in Project Books - did dinosaurs and Ancient Egyptians over and over because it seemed like every school I moved to was doing it.

Crosswords on Monday afternoons. The smell of Banda ink...

Trying to copy a map of Canada out of an atlas - God that was fiddly!

Mr Brown reading the Hobbit out loud.

Writing stories... a LOT. Winning a book about aircraft (!) for having the same list of 15 most famous people as a visiting author.

Getting a prize for "elocution and drama" at the Leaving Assembly.

Teachers throwing chalk (or worse, a board rubber) at anyone who was talking, and dark rumours that there was a slipper in the head's office.

Performing Noah and his Floating Zoo with hundreds of children from other schools in a concert somewhere... (no idea where!)

Running through tunnels in gorse bushes at playtime. Playing with Jacks and French Skipping. Being really devious and hiding in the queues of people waiting to do skipping rather than behind a bush during Hide & Seek type games.

Not having school uniform.

Only one thing on the menu at lunch time and you had to take a little of everything and EAT it. Stringing my main course out for AGES to avoid having to eat pineapple sponge.

From a classroom point of view, it was the formality of things that I remember most... and the frustration of not understanding stuff, even when I'd got the answer right. If you did dare to admit not understanding most teachers would just explain it the same way, only louder and in a more exasperated voice, or tell you not to worry, because you had got it right... Funny how I'm quite keen on making sure children UNDERSTAND what they've done and how things link together.

Is ANY of this helpful?

6. ### fishtoeNew commenter

Thank you everyone.

No hours of teacher planning on Sunday mornings then? We'll practise our tables every day next week wonder if it will make a difference!

7. ### minnieminxNew commenter

I started school in 1977 and moved schools in Feb 1979. At my new school I remember there were HTU and TU sums (we called everythign sums in those days, not just addition) all over the blackboard every morning. We had to work through them in silence. It was a split year class and there were twosections to the sums, but I was new and didn't realise this so I did the lot. Impressed my teacher no end! We did this every single morning, there was no teaching involved, so goodness only knows how the LA kids managed.
Same class we had to learn our times tables in the order of 2, 10, 5 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 by rote from posters on the walls. You then recited 'yours' to the teacher when she called you up at any random time. If you got them all right you could move on, if not you had to go and look at the poster and come back to her when you had learnt it. I never understood how some children would stand and look at the same poster for ages and still not move on.When I hear people say that all children used to know all their tables, I remember those kids who just stared at the 2x poster for hours every day and never ever moved on.
In sept 1980 I moved into the junior school, which was run along much more free and easy lines. There was no lessons or teaching as such, just a list of 'suggested activities' on the board each day. Nothing happened if you didn't do them all. I remember spending a lot of time chatting, but I loved maths and so the 'A page of maths' activity was always done. We had a scheme called 'Core Units' that we worked through at our own pace and there were 25 of them, getting gradually harder. They had an example or two (which we copied out) and then questions to work through. We took ourwork to the teacher to mark and I remember spending ages and ages queuing. Most of the messing about took place in that flippin queue!
I hated primary school as I never felt anyone actually taught me anything. We just taught ourselves or didn't. Lit and num hour, for all their faults, are far better than what I had.

When I taught 'life since 1930' last summer with year 5/6 LA children I did a project with measures and money calculations. They loved their little booklet full of 'sums'.I tried to use the more old fashioned method of 'Here is an example now go and do 10 more' and the enjoyed it a lot. not sure they would like it for more than a few weeks. We did a week on each of length, weight, volume and money. Money was by far the favourite and my TA brought in lots of old coins and stamps for the children to look at.

8. ### minnieminxNew commenter

Ooops sorry got a bit carried away there and it turned out to be rather long. Sorry.

9. ### mancminxNew commenter

i was in primary school in the late 60's to early 70's. i remember that parents were not even allowed in the yard never mind the classroom!

cant honestly remember any books we used except for reading-Rainbow books.

i vaguely remember base 10.

music lessons-with a qualified music teacher.

10. ### sphynx thinker

I was at primary in the early 70's - remember the hell of decimalisation, didn't understand what went before and teachers didn't understand the new system. We were at a point where I started in the infants with Janet & John books, when I got to the end of the series they didn't know what to do with me next!

can remember having to take a 'naughty' boy to the Head's office for the cane - our class was at the bottom of the school and the Head's office at the very top. On the way up he managed to get hold of a skipping rope and hit me with it - bullying was rife in my school and life wasn't pleasant. Luckily I moved to another school where the teachers were friendly and we learnt through work books and lots of story writing. The best bits were the school performances - Jesus Christ Superstar, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

There were separate playgrounds for the boys and girls and parents stayed at the school gates to collect you. In pe we played handball and for lunch we all loved the day we had chocolate dessert, hated the tapioca which always had the dribble of strawberry sauce in it.

11. ### Leapyearbaby64New commenter

Yeah - bases !!! I loved bases. We did loads of work on binary. And all the bases up to base 8 ... I have a feeling that's where I must have learned about hexadecimal. We did the Alpha Beta books too. And like others, I have no recall whatsoever of being TAUGHT anything. We didn't have to learn our tables. That was a big mistake.

We had to keep a work diary and fill in the work we had done each day and put everything in trays at the end of the week to be marked. It was up to us how we used our time.

We had to do some stories, but were never taught HOW to write one. Lots of writing was done though topic. How I loved topic! Individual topics, with a partner, in a group .... I think that approach did make me a truly independent learner at a very young age. I do think children lack the opportunity to develop those skills these days. There must be a happy medium!

12. ### ShowerGelLead commenter

Primary late 60's. We had a book called Larcombe arithmetic and it had problems in it. I used to sit there doing nothing because they were too hard for me!

They were numbered 1 to 10 on a page and the brainy people did them in about 10 mins. This was in the 4th year, as in Yr 6.

The sums were like this...

1. If it takes a boy 5 mins to walk a quarter of a mile how long does it take for him to walk 2 miles?

2. If 4oz of toffees cost me 5d how much would 6oz of toffees cost and 1oz of sherbert costing 4d for 2oz?

Nobody ever had any help either! The brainy people looked down on the thick people.

In history the teacher read Greek stories and I sat at the back and sucked sherbert out of a bag with a straw - the straw just reaching the top of the desk.

Everyone bullied people or were bullied. It was dismal. If a girl was wearing a bra she still had to get changed in the classroom with all the boys too and everyone stared.

We had small bottles of milk each playtime and the lucky kids had a flavoured straw which, when placed in the milk made it choclatey. My mum never got me one and I felt terrible.

The people who passed the 11+ were given one type of envelope and those who failed another type. I failed and cried in the outside toilets. My dad acted as though I was the biggest disappointment ever known to man.

Primary early 70's

I used to write sums on the board a couple of times a week which would start off easy and get harder and harder for the brainy ones. Children who struggled I would give them little cards which they could do. I had boxes and boxes of graded sums which I had written out by hand in black felt tip.When people had finished the board sums I would give them a card exactly suitable for their ability - not one child suffered.

Everyone did a general project on something they were really interested in e.g butterflies, animals, flowers, football or science. It involved lots of cutting, sticking and copying. I thought the children were quite happy. We seemed to have lots of fun even if I told them to work in silence for a bit.

13. ### jubiladaNew commenter

How we all love to reminisce so I will add my "tuppenceworth"

I took my 11 plus in 1962 and remember doing weekly tests using the Nelson progress papers, and recall the 9 a day and 10 a day mental maths books. I still have my ancient copies of all these. I just fished one out and got a shock at how hard they are.(A boy began with 23 cigarette cards(!) and won a dozen a day for six days. How many more did he need for 100? -think I must have lost a lot of grey matter since those days)

The boys and girls had seperate playgrounds, and you played outside in all weathers. In the winter we had great fun building snowmen and throwing snowballs (don't remember any accidents or moans -everyone was having fun!) The toilets were outside and only for use at breaktimes.

Small groups of the older children were alllowed to go down to the local library at the end of the street unaccompanied!

Everyone did knitting and sewing - the compulsory binka embroidery tablemat, and stitching a gym bag. Can you imaging 33 kids with a pair of knitting needles....?

In my infant school we had some fruit trees and when the weather was hot we had no classes in the afternoon and had a picnic and games under the trees.

Any more stories out there?

14. ### Miss Pious

As the others said - but we also had text books that we literally plodded our way through - well that my child's eyes view anyway...

15. ### oldsomemanStar commenter

many have already said many of the things i remember
im primary i remember the use of the cane..with me getting it for as little as wrongly answering a teacher back
the head's study, which always smelt of old holborn pipe baccy and sitting there in trouble waiting for your parents to come
outside loos that no one would use as you got no peace,,,,the door would be pushed in while you sat there and they might take the P***s out of you.

commonwalth day when all the kids dressed up as representatves of one of the commmwealth countries.
science was observing leaves or watching frogs grow, and responsibility was being in charge of the frogs!
raffia work in class and constantly haviing to work in silence
gay readers and the desire to try and get out of one colour to another...the teacher could have up to 5 reading around her table if you were not a free reader.
everything was done in silence...or you got either something chucked at you or caned.However we did respect the teacher, even out of school
Secondary was very formal.The class teacher took us for all of subjects.Only science,technical drawing and woodwork/mettal work was taken by specilists
maths and basic intoduction to algebra, trigomatory and calculus( we were in the top stream of 2 in secondary modern school) decimales and using log table books Ugh!( logs and ant logs) nothing was dont with a calculator as they didnt exist!
life was tough in liverpool and you had to fight your way to being top person in school, and i often got canned for fighting ..and i still got caught doing wrong
A tough little head who spoke wise words but we as kids didnt listen and formal assemblies when we sung christian hymns every morning.There was virtually no other religions taught and indeed no othe folk from other ethnic backgrounds. The black people all lived in one area of liverpool in those days and certainly not on the estates which i lived on.
reports where those of a few words like good,satisfacory and excellent////all work was graded both in books and on reports and you had a place in class......i remembe i was 30/34!
yet the teachers where kind and i had 3 wonderful male teachers( we were a single sex school) and due to their care i turned back onto learning and behaviour!

16. ### dillylilly

I started school in 1970 and have painful memories of outside toilets and frozen milk defrosting in front of a coal fired stove. Other memories:

Having to stay in all playtime because I hadn't drunk my luke warm milk - still can't stomach the stuff

Alpha and Beta maths books, alpha if you were clever, beta if you weren't. 10 a days maths sums - we even marked our own from the answer book (don't think anyone would dared to cheat). Only maths I remember being taught was long division in year 5, the rest we just learnt by working through the books. Being kept in all day because i didn't understand long division (wasn't re-taught it though!)

Better English - sort of grammar/spelling book.

Breakthrough to Literacy in reception - sort of folder with words on cards and plastic runners to put them in and make sentences.

Wide Range readers

We sang songs, made baskets, painted and did clay. We made butter by shaking milk in a jam jar (it took ages).

We had a story every day right until we were 11 and left for senior school.

Each summer we went on an "outing" - don't remember them being linked to any classroom work though.

We learnt poems off by heart - i can still recite "From a Railway Carriage"!

My year 2 teacher had a nap at her desk every day after lunch, and we had to read silently while she did.

Going to church for harvest festival, ascention day and christmas. Getting told off for playing "battleships" during ascention day service

17. ### marymoocowStar commenter

In infant school early to mid 70s, we were vertically grouped so YR-Y2 in each class. There was lots of play for all age groups and any work was maths or news writing. We were heard read every day but usually only 2 pages. Very frustrating when the pages only had 'Cathy saw Mark.' 'Mark saw Cathy.' We did lots of art, cooking and sewing. There was always an interactive nature display. The teacher wrote everything into our work books individually for handwriting and maths. I loved my Infant school and looking back it was very child centred. Junior school was more formal but still lots of art. We seemed to do art, PE or project work in the afternoons. In the summer we did rounders most afternoons. We had old wooden desks with ink wells. The head used a plimsol as the slipper for the naughty boys. Can t ever remember a girl getting hit. In fact when I or my younger sister was there, they changed the law so that corporal punishments could only be done if they had the parents permission. I remember being mortified that my parents filled in yes on the slip that came home, but then my Dad was a secondary teacher who fully believed in and used the cane! We had a maths scheme that we worked through at our own speed, so there could be potentially 26 different types of work going on and equipment. Having said that the teachers didnt teach they just sat behind their desks and marked work. The maths scheme started every section with an explanation and practice question and you only went to the teacher if you still didnt understand. We did have a 0.5 SEN teacher who took out children with difficulties in reading and spelling. In Y6 we did the alpha books with no differentiation, just rote practice. If you were ill as I was, during the week they did fractions, you missed out on that. I am sure there were gaps in our learning but I dont think we did too badly and we certainly found school fun.

18. ### Miss Pious

I know you asked about maths... but we alos cooked loads, sewed, did "proper" woodwork with someone who knew what they were doing... local history projects that meant somethings - art would takeplace when something was happenng in the town and you'd go and draw it - like if the circus ever came to town, visiting local museums/churches every year, enjoying reading without being given any level **** that you should apsire to - but being given the time you needed rather than merely intervention after intervention...

19. ### Jules5150

I remember SMP (I think it was called Sussex Mathematical Project?) and KMP (The Kent equivalent). Little blue and green boxes at the front of the classroom. Pupils had to complete each card in a section before they could move on the the next. I remember the teacher (Mrs. Timms) would sit at the front of the class, red pen in hand, waiting to see those children who had corrections to do or were 'stuck'.

It worked very well. Children took responsibility for their progress, if you had a problem, the teacher could go through it with you one to one.

Our cooking and sewing lady was called Mrs Lovell and she commanded the same respect as all the other teachers. With the possible exception of Mrs Powell, who was feared by all.

Mr. Moore was the much loved P.E. and Music specialist. He was the ear pulling, board rubber slinging type. I remember being about 8 or 9 and he turned someone down for the choir, because the poor child simply couldn't sing. I liked him because he taught netball. We would bunny hop from one end of the playground to the other for what seemed like ages, no one complained of being out of breath. I remember my aching legs the following day.

Oh happy memories!

20. ### schooluberalles

I remember maths with an enthusiastic Reception teacher in 1973 - there were exciting sweet shop jars filled with 'activities' on a high shelf. If we had completed a class number task, we could choose from the jars. Contents included number stitching cards with big needles and coloured wool and some little balls with holes in which could be connected with straws like molecular structures for infants! We also had live animals in class - keeping count of the hatching chicks was an important job!

In Year 3 at a new school, there was a really vicious teacher who made us recite tables using a ruler to keep our place. If we got one wrong she would bang her own ruler across our knuckles and call us lazy.

Year 5 and 6 was Alpha and Beta (of course) with mental maths on a Friday morning - a tape recorded by the teacher with 100 rapid fire questions on the four rules. We had to be in school in time to number our strip of paper 1-100 before the bell rang! Fewer than 80 correct, and we had to stay in at break and do it again.

I remember feeling settled and happy with a fixed timetable, and only became unsettled when the new 'project work' came in, and children floated around all day learning as little as possible. Getting away with spending a whole day chatting with friends in a library area ('researching') made me feel very guilty.

I didn't start secondary until the 80's, so that's out of the op's time zone!