How School Has Changed Since You Were a Kid

Cursive gets swapped for coding.

— -- You might have nailed cursive writing in elementary school, but today's students are bypassing penmanship for other topics--such as computer coding.

And while research suggests students take better notes by hand than they do on laptop computers, technology marches on. Here are five ways it's changed school since we were kids:

1. Forget About Handwriting

Fewer schools are teaching students cursive or handwriting in general, as it's no longer mandated by the Common Core education standards, which most states follow.

Plus, many kids now use tablets or laptops to take notes, meaning there's really little reason to learn those letters by hand. Supporters of the new policy argue that learning to type is a useful skill in the real world, but proper penmanship, while admirable, probably won't lead to a job.

2. Cooler Classes

Years ago, students took "computer class." Now they can sign up for lessons in 3D printing, coding or video game development.

Last week, students across the country took part in "Hour of Code," a movement to get even more young people involved in computer coding, in celebration of Computer Science Education Week.

3. Lighter Backpacks

Remember being weighed down by 20 pounds of trapper keepers, textbooks and No. 2 pencils?

While textbooks have hardly disappeared, some schools are opting for electronic books, and typing on laptops or tablets has in some cases replaced the need for pencils and paper.

4. Smartphones Encouraged

When cell phones first came out, they were banned from most schools and would be confiscated until after class if students got caught using them. Now many teachers say smartphones are encouraged for research and some schools even use apps in class.

5. Old-School Gadgets Gone

Today's classroom likely looks a lot different from when you were a kid. Chalkboards? Gone, replaced by white boards and washable markers. That old-school pencil sharpener attached to the wall? That's gone, too, replaced first by an electric pencil sharpener and then deemed useless once mechanical pencils were introduced, never mind laptops.