Article image
Original photo by Sensay/ Shutterstock
6 Subjects That Are No Longer Taught in Schools
Read Time: 3m
Article image
Original photo by Sensay/ Shutterstock

Think back to your school days: Are you nostalgic for flipping through a dusty library card catalog or clacking away on a typewriter? Some subjects you remember from those days are probably things of the past, although the finer points of how schools have changed might surprise you. These six subjects are either fading from U.S. high school curriculums or fundamentally changing.

1of 6


Page of shorthand notes, with sharpened pencil.
Credit: Robyn Mackenzie/ Shutterstock

Shorthand alphabets help people write things down more quickly by hand, making them valuable for recording court testimony, legislative proceedings, or interviews — not to mention reading those notes after they were taken. By the early 20th century, shorthand was taught in public schools. Yet in the ensuing decades, more efficient ways to take notes dominated, like audio recording and typing. Shorthand was mostly phased out of schools by the 1990s.

Make Every Day More Interesting
Receive Facts Directly In Your Inbox. Daily.

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

2of 6


Ancient Book from the 18th century written in Latin.
Credit: JCVStock/ Shutterstock

Today, around 8% of U.S. high schools have some sort of Latin language class, but it used to be standard practice, especially when many colleges required it for admission. High school Latin education took a hit during World War II, when liberal arts education became less popular. It continued to decline slowly in the 1960s and 1970s in favor of more immediately practical languages, such as French and Spanish.

3of 6


Male students in a woodwork class.
Credit: Phovoir/ Shutterstock

Shop class usually refers to hands-on education in building and fixing — as in a woodshop, metalwork, or automotive repair. Now, these classes would fall under the umbrella of career technical education, or CTE. CTE credits took a nosedive between 1990 and 2009, with manufacturing being among the hardest hit. Many blame the focus on standardized tests for the decline (since resources are directed to academic subjects like reading and math rather than vocational classes). There is now a renewed interest in CTE classes, but that includes vocational training in fields like health care and communications, not just traditional “shop” classes.

4of 6

Home Economics

Students in aprons cooking during a home economics class.
Credit: Juice Flair/ Shutterstock

Home ec developed a reputation for taking in high school girls and making them into perfect homemakers, but it was originally designed to demonstrate the science behind domestic skills and elevate what was considered “women’s work.” Over the years, the topics were increasingly devalued, and some unfortunate teaching tools emerged — like using real human “practice babies.” In schools that still have classes on domestic skills, they’re usually rebranded as family and consumer sciences. Even those are on the decline; enrollment dropped 38% between 2002 and 2012.

5of 6

The Food Pyramid and the Food Wheel

Female nutritionist with food pyramid chart at table.
Credit: New Africa/ Shutterstock

Depending on when you attended school — and what the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) was recommending at the time — you may have learned about nutrition with a cleanly divided triangle or circle, each outlining several food groups. The food wheel, with differently sized wedges to recommend how much to eat from each food group, came out in the 1980s. In the early 1990s, it was replaced by the food pyramid, showing food with a higher recommended intake at the bottom and lower recommended intake at the top. It was briefly replaced by MyPyramid, a triangle with vertical bands and a staircase running up one side to represent physical activity, in the mid-2000s. Since 2011, the go-to infographic is MyPlate, which shows a place setting with simplified food categories.

6of 6

Cursive (Kind Of)

Three boys writing cursive on a chalk board in school.
Credit: - Yuri A/ Shutterstock

Writing in cursive used to be a standard part of school curriculums, but it started fading from classrooms in the early 2010s when states began adopting the federal Common Core State Standards, which didn’t require cursive. A pro-cursive backlash came soon after; in 2016, 14 states required that schools teach cursive. That number is now more than 20. While you probably don’t see cursive in as many classrooms as you did a couple of decades ago, the reports of cursive’s death are greatly exaggerated.