Ah, the 90’s: teased bangs, zoom pants, and the re-emergence of boy bands started the decade off in a flurry of pop culture memorabilia worthy of preceding a millennial change. Those of us aging from grade to high school found new and improved ways to engage in fun educational activities, as well as a few “supplemental” ones.
In that spirit, here are nine reasons why going to school in the 90’s was totally rad.
1. All Hail the Age of Electronics
Facebook, the iPhone, and the like may not have materialized until a good ten years after the 90’s, but we were well on our way by 1992 when the World Wide Web was born. At the beginning of the decade, about 15% of Americans had a computer. Macintosh anyone? We also saw the emergence of the first prototypes of Microsoft Windows, Adobe PhotoShop and Symantec’s Norton Antivirus.
2. Web Takes on a Whole New Meaning
Hooking up your computer to a dial up modem (remember when they were separate components?) allowed you to get on the web via a host like America Online, which often billed you by the hour. Once on the web, students could use Netscape Navigator or Encarta to research their latest educational problem. And maybe hit up a chat room, or a host of other educational and perhaps less than educational activities.
3. Game Shows for Kids
Sure, there was Sesame Street, but before the 90’s the closest thing to a kid’s game show was College Edition Jeopardy. That all changed with the Nickelodeon hit “Double Dare,” a show that combined challenges that often involved slime along with trivia to both educate and delight kids of all ages. Maybe it debuted in the 80’s, but was still relevant in the 90’s. Non-educational types also had “Nickelodeon Guts” to entertain with great sports-related challenges.
4. Cell Phone Savvy Students
Teachers are well on to the use of cell phone in classrooms now, and have many creative ways of blocking them. However back in the 90’s, the cell phone was quite new and revolutionary, allowing savvy students to make calls and send texts before, after, and during class.
5. To the Top of the Lap
Pencil and paper became so 80’s when the laptop expanded, mostly thanks to Apple, the Macintosh PowerBook 100 and the ThinkPad. Students could use MS-DOS and word processing programs to take notes and save them on a floppy disk or unfathomable 128 MB hard drive.
6. (Sort of) Educational Video Games
If you ever played an educational video game in the 90’s, I have two words for you: Oregon Trail. The black and green game found you and your buddies posing as pioneers in the 1800’s traversing the span of the United States in a wagon. Multiple perils surrounded you including random snake bites, mystery illnesses, flooded rivers and the like. For those of you on the clever side, maybe you could say you were playing Wolfenstein to learn more about World War II.
7. Invasion of the MP3
The ability to digitize music changed the way we listened to it, purchased it, and ultimately illegally shared it. But for those of you also looking to get educated, there were also tons of podcasts on everything from tech to games to educational topics.
8. Sex Ed Takes on a New Meaning
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman” became the most recognized political catch phrase of the decade. It also sparked a debate both inside and outside the classroom on sexual practices and their dangers. The HIV epidemic had many parents and educators alike worried about the consequences of unprotected sex.
9. Reading Became More Than a Rainbow
The emergence of the magical boy who lived in a cupboard under a staircase and sparked a billion dollar franchise all began with a humble book published in 1997. In addition, thrones became games, geishas wrote memoirs, and girls wore pearl earrings in a flurry of educational novels that took readers away to different times. Authors such as Michael Crichton and John Grisham also showed us the sexier sides of science and law.
No matter what your age in the 90’s, you more than likely have many fond memories, as well as a few pimple-riddled class pictures you hope never make it to Facebook.