I went to school in the Los Angeles Unified School District in the sixties and seventies; I got a great education. Here are just a few of the cool activities I enjoyed:
  1. Making a wooden tugboat in kindergarten
    We sawed the wood with normal-sized saws and hammered them together with real nails. We received safety instructions from our teacher—no aides—and went to work. I wonder if that is still done now.
  2. Taking a tour of the Helm's Bakery plant in downtown Los Angeles in second grade
    We were taken on a tour of the huge bakery where they made Olympic Bread and the doughnuts that were delivered to all the L.A. neighborhoods every day—like an ice cream man but with pastries. We were given a huge sugar cookie to eat while standing in an open area of the bakery within view of the giant mixing machines. We went home with a baker's hat and a mini loaf of bread. Do kids still have field trips?
  3. Listening to Peter and the Wolf in third grade
    We talked about classical music and the different instruments used in an orchestra. Is there still a line item for music education in the budget?
  4. Going to posture class in the fourth grade
    Mrs. Pete would come in each semester and evaluate every student. Those who were lucky enough to have a forward head, sway back, knock-knees, or be pigeon-toed, were excused twice a week to do yoga and balance and stretching exercises. Most people don't believe me when I tell them about this grade school perk.
  5. Going to the Shrine Auditorium to see a live performance of The Magic Flute in fifth grade
    Boys wore suits and girls wore their best dresses (pants weren't allowed for girls back then). We were expected to be on our very best behavior on the bus and to be polite and attentive opera patrons. I'm assuming kids don't have this opportunity anymore, which is a shame.
  6. Our math teacher Mr. Friedman playing us Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant album in sixth grade
    He was really enthused about sharing this music with us during a low-key afternoon near the end of the school year. Today, somebody would get sued.
  7. Being a library volunteer and discovering the sex education picture book, Where Did I Come From by Peter Mayle and Arthur Robins on the shelves in sixth grade
    My friends and I parked our book reshelving carts for a bit and learned the real story of sex ... in words and pictures. There is no way this is in today's elementary school libraries; somebody would get sued! (It's a remarkably well-done book and still in publication. I bought a copy on Amazon recently for my daughter to have for her kids)
  8. First grade? It was all a blur. I got the measles, strep throat, and tonsillitis.
    I was home sick a lot.