Saved by the bell! Remembering school in the 1960s

School was definitely different back in the day! Source: National Archives of Australia.

When technology was introduced into classrooms, school became a completely different world than it was around sixty years ago. Where massive blackboards once hung at the front of the room, interactive whiteboards that connect to the internet and use virtual writing now take their position. And rather than learning from a textbook, all the information that students need can now be found online.

It’s easy to forget the simple wooden desks and manual school bells that students of the ’60s know so well, so here are a few reminders of the best parts of class from the good old days.

Lunch time

With many families surviving on a single income, buying tuck shop was definitely considered a special treat for most students. Once or twice a month, parents would write the order on the outside of a brown paper bag and pop the coins inside. While it’s great that today’s tuck shop menus focus more on healthy foods, it’s hard not to miss those delicious cream buns you could buy for less than 10 cents.

Every other day of the month, students were stuck with a homemade lunch that usually consisted of a soggy tomato sandwich, maybe even with some cold meat, fresh from the weekend’s Sunday Roast. Sandwiches were wrapped up in greaseproof paper and popped in a brown paper bag that was often reused throughout the week.

Read more: Remember school lunches? 1974 tuckshop menu shows classic food we used to love


When the lunch break came around, everyone was dying to stretch their legs and high energy games were the best way to go about it. For the girls, a bit of chalk and some concrete got you a game of hopscotch, or a sneaky dip into mum’s sewing kit gave you a fun game of elastics. The boys were more interested in marbles and tag but everyone would join together for a quick game of ‘piggy in the middle’, ‘red rover’ or ‘what’s the time Mr Wolf?’.

The best part about these games is how simple they were. At most, kids would need a ball, some rope or a piece of chalk to start it off, then the rest was left purely to their imagination!

National anthem

Singing the national anthem was a regular task back in the day. Before Australia’s then-prime minister Gough Whitlam decided to change the anthem to what is now known as ‘Advance Australia Fair’,  ‘God Save the Queen’ was belted out during every school assembly, sporting event and parade. Even though it’s no longer used, the lyrics are most likely still fresh in the minds of Baby Boomers everywhere!

Free milk

This is probably the one thing about school that sticks out the most to many Baby Boomers. Every morning during the school week, trucks would drop off steel crates of milk at schools across the country, as a tasty treat to boost student’s calcium levels. If you grew up somewhere hot though, you’ll know the pain of drinking warm, slightly-off milk after it had been left sitting in the sun for over an hour! Most schools even had milk monitors who would pace around making sure every last drop of the one-third pint was finished.

What were your favourite parts about school? Do you think schools today should be more like they used to be in the ’60s?

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