What Was Education Like in the 1930s?

Although the Great Depression forced many schools to close their doors, those that remained open faced unique challenges. From teaching the basics to preparing students for the workforce, find out what education was like in the 1930s.

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In the 1930s, education in the United States was a time of great change. For the first time, public schools began to offer free education to all children, regardless of their social or economic background. This was a major shift from the previous system, which had only allowed children from wealthy families to attend school. Additionally, the 1930s saw a rise in the popularity of private schools, which were seen as more prestigious than public schools.

The Great Depression also had a major impact on education in the 1930s. Many families could not afford to send their children to school, and as a result, many schools were forced to close their doors. This led to a decrease in the number of children attending school and an overall decline in the quality of education.

Despite these challenges, the 1930s was a time of great progress for education in the United States. Public schools began to offer free education to all children, and private schools became more popular than ever before.

The Great Depression

The 1930s was a time of great economic hardship all over the world. This was known as the Great Depression. Many people lost their jobs and were struggling to make ends meet. Education was not a priority for many families during this time.

Financial Struggles

The Great Depression of the 1930s was a global economic downturn that left millions of people unemployed and in poverty. The depression also had a profound impact on education. In the United States, for example, the number of students enrolled in college decreased sharply, and many schools were forced to close their doors.

In other parts of the world, the effects of the depression were just as severe. In Europe, for instance, many universities were closed and many students were unable to continue their studies.

The Great Depression also led to changes in the way education was funded. In the United States, for example, the federal government began to provide more financial support for schools and colleges. This increased funding helped to ensure that more students had access to education.

Although the Great Depression had a negative impact on education, it also led to some positive changes. For instance, the increased funding from the government helped to improve facilities and resources at schools and colleges. This improved access to education eventually led to higher levels of educational attainment among Americans.

Educational Struggles

The Great Depression put a great strain on education in the United States. Families were struggling to make ends meet, and many children were forced to drop out of school to help support their families. The number of students attending college decreased, and the number of schools that closed their doors increased.

The quality of education also suffered. Teachers were paid less, and many experienced teachers left the profession. This meant that more inexperienced teachers were teaching in the classroom. Schools also had to cut back on resources, which meant that students didn’t have access to the same quality of education they had before the Great Depression.

Despite the challenges, there were also some positive outcomes of education during the Great Depression. Because families were struggling, many children learned how to be resourceful and find creative ways to get by. They also learned the value of hard work and determination. These skills would serve them well in their future lives.

Life in the 1930s

The 1930s were a time of great change for America. The country was in the midst of the Great Depression, and many families were struggling to make ends meet. Despite these difficulties, children still attended school and received an education. Let’s take a closer look at what education was like in the 1930s.


In the 1930s, television was still in its infancy, and few households had a set. At the beginning of the decade, there were about 500,000 television sets in the United States. By 1939, that number had grown to about 2 million. Viewership increased dramatically during that time as well. In 1930, there were about 100,000 people who regularly watched television. By 1939, that number had increased to about 4 million people.

Radio was the primary source of entertainment and news for most Americans in the 1930s. Nearly every home had a radio, and Americans spent about $500 million on radio sets and related equipment during the decade. Some popular radio programs during the 1930s included The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, and Amos ‘n’ Andy.

Few households had computers or any type of sophisticated technology in the 1930s. The first commercial computer, called the Z1, was developed in Germany in 1936. It was not until after World War II that computers began to gain widespread use.


In the 1930s, people went to the movies for entertainment. The average movie ticket cost about 25 cents. Some of the most popular movie stars were Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, and Boris Karloff.

People also listened to the radio for entertainment. Families would gather around the radio to listen to their favorite programs. Some popular radio programs were “The Lone Ranger,” “The Shadow,” and ” Amos ‘n’ Andy.”

Books were also popular in the 1930s. Some best-selling authors were James Hilton, Pearl Buck, and Fannie Hurst.

Social norms

In the 1930s, the to-go coffee cup didn’t exist, which made it very difficult for men to get their caffeine fix on the go. As a result, most men drank coffee at home or in diners. Women, on the other hand, were expected to drink tea. It was considered improper for women to drink coffee in public.

During the Great Depression, many people could not afford to send their children to school. In fact, many children had to drop out of school in order to help their families make ends meet. This was especially true for farm families whose children were needed to work in the fields. As a result, the literacy rate in the United States dropped significantly during this decade.

In response to the high drop-out rate, the government began offering free adult education classes in an effort to increase literacy. These classes were typically held in churches or community centers and were taught by volunteer teachers.

Education in the 1930s

The 1930s were a time of great change in the United States. One of the most significant changes was the way children were educated. In the past, education had been a privilege afforded to only a select few. However, in the 1930s, education became more accessible to the masses. Let’s take a closer look at education in the 1930s.

School systems

The school systems were very different in the 1930s than they are today. There were far fewer schools and most were not accredited. The curriculum was also vastly different. In the 1930s, the focus was on subjects like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Science and history were not emphasized as much as they are today.

One of the biggest differences between schools in the 1930s and today is the way that children were taught. In the 1930s, most children were taught in one room with one teacher. There were no special education classes or advanced placement classes. Today, most children are taught in separate classrooms by different teachers.

Teaching methods

In the 1930s, educators began to realize that children were capable of learning more than just the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. As a result, teaching methods began to change. Teachers began to focus on critical thinking and problem solving, and they began to use more innovative methods to engage their students.

One popular method of instruction in the 1930s was the lecture. This method allowed teachers to present information in a clear and concise manner. Lectures were often accompanied by slide shows or films, which made them even more effective.

Another popular method of instruction was the laboratory method. This method allowed students to learn through hands-on experimentation. Laboratories were often used in science classes, but they were also used in other subjects such as art and music.

The third popular method of instruction was the field trip. Field trips allowed students to learn about different places and things in a real-world setting. Field trips were often used in history and social studies classes.

Access to education

In the 1930s, access to education was far from equal. Children from wealthy families were more likely to attend private schools or boarding schools, while children from poor families were more likely to go to public schools. There were also a significant number of children who did not go to school at all. In 1930, the U.S. census reported that more than 5 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 were not enrolled in school.

The quality of education also varied widely depending on the type of school a child attended. Private schools and boarding schools often had better facilities and higher-quality teachers than public schools. In addition, public schools in rural areas were often much less developed than those in urban areas.

Despite these disparities, the 1930s saw a number of important changes in the American educational system. One of the most significant was the establishment of the National Youth Administration (NYA), which provided financial assistance to students who needed help paying for their education. The NYA also helped improve conditions at many public schools by funding construction projects and providing resources for new equipment and textbooks.


It is clear that education in the 1930s was very different from what it is today. With the Great Depression, many families could not afford to send their children to school, and many schools had to close down. However, there were still some schools that remained open, and children who were able to attend these schools received a good education.

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