Classroom Of The 60s And 70s

This is the common type of classroom of most schools. The most obvious things that you may not be able to see in nowadays classrooms were probably the “blackboard” and the type of “tables and chairs”. The photo above taken in 1962, shows a typical classroom in a rural area then.

Below are some of the things we used in the classes and schools of the 60s and 70s. Credit to National Archives of Singapore for the National Heritage Fair in 2007.

A morning exercise or PE lesson scene;

The type of old tables we used in the classroom;

Typical PE ‘tools’ then. I remember these round rubberised type we used during PE lessons, also not forgetting those bean bags. I’m surprised to find out from my daughter that it’s still being used now.

How a blackboard looks like;

Of course to write on a blackboard, you need to use chalk and not markers. There were different colors for chalk too. To erase, we used the duster.

The other use of the duster is for the teacher to throw it at those naughty or sleeping students. Remember those chalk and duster marks left on the face once the duster hit your face. Back then, no parents seem to bother to complain and students also don’t bother to tell their parents too.

I had my primary education from 1969 to 1974, when was yours?

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64 Responses to “Classroom Of The 60s And 70s”


  1. 1 profkingsfield2004 Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 6:19 am

    My primary education was bteween 1961 and 1966 in a rural area. THings I remembered having to carry the desks/chairs to the open space in order to wash the classroom.

    Alaso “eating chalk” for talking too much in class. I think students love to talk when the teacher was teaching. The punishment began with standing-up, next standing-up on a chair, next putting a chalk in the mouth like smoking a cigarette, next mouth full of used chalks, next standing outside the classroom, next see the principal, finally if all things don’t work, a bad remark was written on the report card.

    Other punishments I recall – writing lines “I shall not talk during lesson hours” 100 times, sometimes 500 times. We devised an ingenious method of typing a rubber band around 5 pens so that at one go we write 5 lines already.

    Sometimes the blackboard was used to write down the “scores”. There was a time when a teacher awarded marks for all kinds of classroom competitions; keeping quiet, subject tests, etc. The classroom was divided into “teams” based on the desk layout. Mine was by column.

  2. 2 Victor Koo Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    We had a duty roster for cleaning the blackboard.

  3. 3 peek-a-boo Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 6:03 am

    At Katong convent we sometimes had to stand outside of the classroom with a baby ‘tito’ in our mouths as a humiliating punishment for talking during lessons.
    @ Profkingsfield that eating chalk punishment must have been so icky!LOL! I love that ingenious method of tying a rubber band around 5 pens to write 5 times at one go.Wow!
    But writing lines on the blackboard was the classic penalty.I used to annoy everyone at times by screeching the chalk on purpose causing everyone to cringe and cover their ears!

  4. 4 ordinary guy Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 7:30 am

    I remembered when the teachers rubbed off the chalk writings from the blackboard, the dust particles usually lands on the students who sat on the front rows in front of the blackboard.

  5. 5 profkingsfield2004 Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 10:01 am

    One other punishment should one speak vulgar language like genitals in Hokkien or FXXX, the student had to go to the basin (some classrooms had basins) to wash the mouth and gargle with foam made from the blue-colored AYAM brand soap bar (Victor I think you remember that washing clothes on that wooden board required cutting a piece of the long soap bar?).

    The punishment for looking at pretty Convent primary school girls was cover one’s eyes with 2 hands and standing in the corner of the classroom. If one carried a handkerchief, the handkerchief was used to tie around the head to cover the eyes.

  6. 6 Timothy Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    I still remember caning is still allowed in schools when i was in primary school in the early/mid80s. Back then, we don’t dare to complain to our parents and teacher’s words seems to be the ‘law’ then.

    I had this teacher who use to throw the textbooks literally when he is returning the signed assingments back to us.

  7. 7 laokokok Friday, October 31, 2008 at 7:38 am

    You are right Peter, eating chalk and having the chalk being thrown at the face were the other popular punishment by the teachers then. Seems like most of the teachers used the same method of punishments, why? Of course writing lines is one that will have to go thru at least once in the 6 years of education.

    Hi Ordinary Guy, some blackboard were in a horrible condition that they were very difficult to clean off. The students even have to use wet cloth to wipe them clean.

    Yes Timothy, I don’t know why some teachers like to throw the students books…

  8. 8 Lam Chun See Friday, October 31, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    We used compass and dividers to dig holes in our desks to play ‘golf’. Well maybe the holes were already there, we just enlarged it.

  9. 9 laokokok Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 7:44 am

    Oh yes Chun See, you reminded me of all those holes caused by the compass and dividers!

  10. 10 profkingsfield2004 Friday, November 7, 2008 at 10:56 am

    making holes on the desk must have been 1969- that was the year singapore hosted the world golf championship at the SICC. jack nicholas, gary Player and Lee Trevino were some big names who took part.

    • 11 Susan Yap Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Wow! You guys really wonderful. Remembering all the mischief we did in school during our younger days. Now is the youngsters turn. I wonderful what mischief my grandchild can do since his dad used be very naughty during his school days.

  11. 12 peek-a-boo Tuesday, November 11, 2008 at 12:42 am

    @ profkingsfield2004 Thanks for giving me a really good giggle with the vulgar language punishment. I certainly remember the Ayam brand soap bar but I never imagined someone gargling with its foam LOL!
    If we were caught saying rude words relating to genitals or copulation we girls had to wash our mouths but with Popinjay soap(don’t know if its still exists) and report to the Principle for punishment. Saying bad words was the worst and apparently very dramatic. Parents were telephoned or sent a note. And everyone in school stared at you like you were the Elephant Man.
    @ ordinary guy Your’e absolutely right about those dust particles landing on the hair of front rowers LOL! And if you wore specs it was double the trouble! And teachers would often drop the duster as they wiped the blackboard and everyone would automatically look at the duster on the floor.LOL!

  12. 13 snoopy81 Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Hm…some common punishments I remembered are standing on chair, behind or outside classroom, standing inside a small circle the teacher drew on the floor and carry chair/schoolbag/books above the head. Usually female teachers like to give such punishments.

    peek-a-boo: which year did you study in CHIJ KC?

  13. 14 Icemoon Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Can chalk be stuffed into the mouth without health problem? Quite surprised it ranks lower than standing outside classroom in the hierarchy of punishment.

  14. 15 snoopy81 Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Haha Icemoon, where do you find the hierarchy of punishment? I guess the hierarchy is different in every school and time. Standing outside classroom or on chair is more common in my school.

  15. 16 laokokok Monday, November 17, 2008 at 9:37 am

    I’m impressed! So many different types of punishments that most of us have gone thru during our school days.

  16. 17 Icemoon Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    @snoppy81,

    Was referring to the punishment for talking too much by profkingsfield2004. First comment.

  17. 18 snoopy81 Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Haha… what other punishments u all recommend? How about standing on 1 leg? hehe…

  18. 19 Icemoon Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Asking girls in mixed school to stand on chair (with 1 leg? hehe) like a bit demeaning right?

  19. 20 snoopy81 Friday, November 21, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Haha… its bad to ask girls in mixed school to stand on chair in the boys’ pressence?

  20. 21 Icemoon Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Yup, not to mention a bit dangerous. You may slip if tired or when you try to shift your weight on the legs.

  21. 22 snoopy81 Sunday, November 23, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Hm… stand on chair dangerous meh?

  22. 23 Icemoon Sunday, November 23, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Well, I remember some of them unbalanced on the legs.

  23. 24 Icemoon Sunday, November 23, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I mean uneven on the legs, sorry.

    Also if you look at the old photos by LKK, the girls were sitting on stools, not chairs.

  24. 25 snoopy81 Friday, November 28, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Icemoon: I mean during the 80s or 90s when we are sitting on chairs and not stools.

  25. 26 Kai Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    This is cool!
    Anyone knows where we can still find classrooms of this sort? Schools with blackboard especially…

  26. 27 laokokok Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Not too sure Kai, but in the 80s many still using such blackboard.

  27. 28 db1688 Sunday, July 12, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Laokokok,

    Excellent job on maintaining a very enjoyable blog. Reading this blog has brought back many fond memories of my childhood in Singapore during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. I attended Delta West Primary School from 1967 to 1972. My family migrated to the US in 1972 and I have been here ever since. If I remember correctly, we left Singapore the day the rest of my classmates were taking the placement exam for secondary schools. I do remember the “blackboard”. In those days, we alternated between the morning and afternoon sessions from one school year to the next. When I was around 10 or 11 years old, I attended the afternoon session. I was the tallest kid in my class so I had to sit in the back of the class room. The late afternoon sunlight made the blackboard very difficult to read. The teacher called my mother in and told her I needed glasses. I don’t remember caning at my school but hitting the knuckles with a ruler was a very common punishment. And one male teacher was very accurate at throwing chalk at inattentive students.

    • 29 laokokok Monday, July 13, 2009 at 7:48 am

      Thank you db 1688. Sad to say the blackboard days were gone and the whiteboard though eliminate those dusty chalk problems, but light reflection is another big issue.

    • 31 Siva Friday, November 20, 2009 at 2:20 pm

      Hi db1688

      I read your post with interest as you mentioned Delta West Primary School.

      My dad, Mr. Ponnampalam, was the principal for a number of years. I do not know if you remember him or have any memories of studying there when he was the principal.

      Please let me know.

      cheers

      Siva

      • 32 Lye Hou Fai Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 9:56 pm

        Hi Siva
        I was at Delta West Primary School from 1968 to 1973 when your father was still the Principal. How is he now? I remember him as nice & caring to all his students. I am still in contact with my primary school cohort; it would be good to hear from him.
        Thanks!

        Regards
        Lye Hou Fai
        lyehf@stengg.com

  28. 33 Krissy Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Oh, I find it hard that there aren’t any chalkboards apparently. In my school every classroom has them :P

  29. 34 Beth Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I remember vividly. It was 1966, and we had our best teacher, Miss Keean. We were all 8 or 9. Miss Keean didn’t believe in corporal punishment. She never had to punish us. I do remember one hot summer day towards the end of the year. Our classroom had an industrial fan that made the classroom an icebox. When the class had being talking to much, she made us miss ten minutes of lunch, sitting at our desks with our eyes closed. It was so hot out, we actually enjoyed it, especially when we all started footfighting. Miss Keean was non the wiser.
    I remember one boy, Josh, getting slippered.

  30. 35 diane Monday, August 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    wanted to find primary school in the 60s near the basin on corner of liverpool road and mountain highway. The basin….

  31. 36 joe Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Another humiliation for boys was being told sit under a table, in the corridor out side class ,with four chalks in the mouth and one each in the ears. The girls passing by use to torment these guys.

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