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What It Means to Be "Old School"

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


You have probably heard someone say, "I'm old school." You may have said it about yourself. Even though the word "old" is included in the expression, it doesn't mean that people who are "old school" are literally old. Age is involved only because a person who is "old school" has lived to form traditional attitudes and habits much longer than younger people. The expression has more to do with a way of thinking than it has to do with age.

Do you know what it means to be "old school"? Even though it is a common expression, some people wonder what it means. Let's set the record straight and find out what being "old school" actually means.

Meaning of the Expression: "Old School"

Being old school simply means being old-fashioned or traditional. Calling yourself old school or being called old school by someone else is neither derogatory nor negative. The implication is that someone has not been impacted by newer trends and the rapid changes in our society today.

People who are old school still have the same beliefs, ideas, behaviors, and core values that were established within them much earlier in their lives. They can also be referred to as traditionalists because they favor past traditions much more than the latest trends. They do things the same way they have always done them in the past. They may go even further back and still conform to the thinking of their parents and grandparents.

Young people are not "old school" because they have not been around long enough to adopt the rules that older adults have lived by for many years. People who are "old school" value things from their past that others never knew, have forgotten about or have lost.

"Old School" is Loving Things of the Past

When someone calls themselves "old school," it usually means something positive. It means that they consider themselves to be a lover of things from the past in contrast to modern-day music, clothes, hairstyles, movies, vehicles, language, manners, technology, or lack thereof.

People who are "old school" grieve many things they enjoyed in the past that have been abandoned or are obsolete today.

"Old School" Things Replaced by Modern-Day Things

A person who is "old school" might miss things from the past even though those things no longer exist for good reasons.

People who use still use vinyl albums, cassette tapes, rotary telephones, manual typewriters, and black-and-white televisions could be called "old schools."

You might agree that the following lists include things that have changed very much in the last few years.

  • Clothes: ripped jeans. red bottom shoes
  • Hairstyles for men, women and children
  • Words and expressions
  • Manners and attitudes
  • Music: rap, heavy metal
  • Names of musical groups: The Temptations, The Spinners, The Drifter, The Four Tops vs. Meghan Thee Stallion
  • Movies: animated, action, fantasy
  • Television: reality shows, dating shows
  • Dances: the twist vs. the twerk
  • Baby names: names of fruits, directions, elements
  • Subjects in school: handwriting has been eliminated
  • Travel; no more Volkswagen, Chevettes, cars with running boards
  • Events, such as destination weddings instead of local intimate wedding
  • Wedding cakes have been replaced with cupcakes
  • Church services, anything goes to attract attendees
  • Ways to be in contact with others: email, text, voice mail, Skype, social media vs. snail mail and rotary telephone
  • Dating: dating apps for every category imaginable

There is nothing wrong with being "old school." However, one disadvantage is that those who are "old school" might be set in their ways concerning many things and are missing out on some modern things that are more enjoyable and beneficial.

Simply put, "old school" means the love of old times and things that existed many decades ago. "Old school" might also imply "out-of-date thinking" that was conceived in an earlier era and is no longer current today.

It is possible for people to be old school about some things and up to date about others. Most people today have modern-day technology that they prefer having rather than rotary telephones, floppy disks, manual typewriters, and black-and-white televisions with only three major channels.

Has anyone ever called you "old school"? Have you ever referred to yourself as "old school"?

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