Nostalgia Tech 6: Back to school tech that will make your kids hate you

Nostalgia Tech 6: Back to school tech that will make your kids hate you

Summary: We thought these items were cool when we were at school. Your kids -- and their friends -- will not.


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  • Flipover alarm clock

    Why they will hate it: It will drive them crazy every minute as the time flips over to the next minute. 09:59 to 10:00 is a particularly loud change. It will make sure that they get up for school with its annoying buzz.

    What they want instead: Longer school holidays so they can sleep in until noon.

    Image credit: Etsy



  • Exercise book

    Why they will hate it: They will lose this when homework needs to be given in. Handwriting needs to be neat and legible. They can not edit or delete sentences easily and they can not cut and paste from other finished work without a lot of effort.

    What they want instead: any device with word processing software, spell checking functions, WiFi and access to the Internet.

    Image credit: And Vintage



  • Roller blackboard

    Why they will hate it: Although this was considered high tech in the '70s after the fixed blackboards of the 1960s it had three faults; You had to concentrate on the blackboard in case the lesson rolled round and you missed what was going on. It needed chalk which was usually missing due to being thrown at unruly pupils, You had to copy down relevant information as it was written down during the lesson.

    What they want instead: Any device which can receive the lesson from the smart screen over WiFi.

    Image credit: ebay



Topics: After Hours, Hardware

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  • I dunno...

    ...a II GS case mod running a recent OS, a tamagotchi hanging from your belt loop, a Pacman backpack, a Speak n' Spell on the dorm room coffee table and a flip clock by the bed...

    ...them's a handful of items that could confer some pretty serious, instant-hipster-cred.
  • My thoughts regarding calculators

    Calculators might not be "cool", but I can tell you from personal experience that phones and tablets are NOT allowed during exams.
    • Neither should calculators

      Kids should NEVER be allowed to use calculators until COLLEGE.

      Most kids today lack even basic math skills. High school seniors are unable to even calculate 9x9 without a gadget .... and that is pathetic.
      • Re: Neither should calculators

        Ban that new-fangled Arabic decimal place notation. It makes arithmetic too easy. Force them to use good old Roman numerals!
        • Hell yeah!!

          MMXIII Rulez!!
          Aristarco Palacios
      • Depends on what is being tested

        When the test is about the ABILITY to compute on paper, calculators are, rightly, not allowed. When the test is about the ability to COMBINE calculations to solve a complex problem, calculators are allowed so that students can think about the THEORY of the problem, as in computing the orbit of a satellite around the Earth (with the test paper providing the mass of the Earth and the Gravitational Constant). Devices capable of online communication would allow cheating, however, so calculator YES, phone NO.
      • I agree!

        I was so pissed off when I was told that my kids could use calculators in school even 10 years ago and I remember when the mere sight of a calculator watch during a test was an instant F!

        Our education system is going down hill because they don't teach even the most basic skills with enough reinforcement to make sure that kids really learn something that sticks with them.
  • Even better than a slide rule

    The Curta calculator ... The ultimate in cool.

    Great article ... Kids should have to use the stuff from each decade for a few months to appreciate what they have.
    • Re: Even better than a slide rule

      How about a zoomable virtual slide rule on an Android device? With switchable scales. Better than any real slide rule.
      • I dunno... can make whatever you want as an app, but you can't emulate the feel of the plastic, or bambu for that matter, of a new slide rule. And then the imperfections as they wear-off. If only touchscreens could give that feeling...
        Aristarco Palacios
        • Re: And then the imperfections as they wear-off

          You mean you want to emulate characteristics of the original that make it less effective as a calculating device?

          I don't.
  • Actually,

    In the local high school statistics class, a graphing calculator is required... even though they check out iPads (like library books) to all the students each year.
    • The must be an app.

      There must be an app for smart phone that does advanced graphing, calculus and algebra. Some TI calculators are emulated on smart phones. So theoretically you do not need calculator if phone is allowed. That being said, calculator physical keyboard is so much better on the exam than smart phone touch screen.
  • you are already too late

    That already have an iPad. This article is two years too late. What do they want? Someone to drive them around and not ask questions. Where have you been?
    A Gray
  • Rip Van Winkle much?

    Welcome to 1983.
  • some homework required

    the apple 11gs predates windows 3.0. So windows 3.0 looks like the 11gs UI. :) I really wanted one of these when they first came out but had just bought a new AtariST.
  • My youth recaptured!

    Except for the Tamagotchi and Mobilephone which were about 20 years later.

    Note: Colored pencils -- which were typically round -- would not help with rewinding snarled tape cassettes as hexagonal-shaft Ticonderogas or Eberhards.

    I used my TI-35 yesterday although I had to do it by rote as the key symbols are worn away. My circular sliderule, with pullout periodic table & handy formula reference guide, is in my laptop bag.

    My Radio Shack Walkman knockoff still has my Berlitz Norsk tape in it.

    Heck -- I think the Flintstones were my neighbors.

    JJ Brannon
    • You had a circular sliderule??

      You are THE man, dude!!
      Aristarco Palacios
  • Do you have kids?

    Cell phones are banned in most schools. We were required to buy calculators and drum roll... Electronic dictionaries. God bless the cutting edge of living in the Silicon Valley. 3 kids... 3 calculators. 3 electronic dictionaries... Grrrr...
  • Never understood why parents spent on Data Plan.

    $25/month per kid (device) if you're on ATT family plan. To me this is just stupid and a complete waste of money. When they're in school, there are WiFi there, when they're home, there are WiFi there. If they're out elsewhere, they dont really need to be on their 'device' anyway.

    Instead of wasting the $25/month/kid to my cell provider, I just get the basic feature phone (and requested to have text/data both blocked). And I spent the $25 on Books for them instead.

    Or for those that still have their kids share their computers, it's much more cost effective to just use that $25 to buy each their own computers. You'll get far more use out of a computer than a phone with data plan imo.