Friday, September 30, 2005

An interesting take on education from 1895

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895

--Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?
This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS -1895
Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of"lie,""play," and "run."
5. Define case; Illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete. Gives the saying "he only had an 8th grade education" a whole new meaning, doesn't it?! Also shows you how poor our education system has become... and, NO! I don't have the answers


zack said...

I honestly wish I could say that this surprised me. I studied education in school, and I can tell that although much of the problem with public schools lies in the the very fact that they are pbulic, a great deal more of the problem lies in the philosophies that are being perpetuated in unviersity education programs.

Unfortunately we, as education students, were taught to beleive that altruism and self-loathing were to be our ideals in the classroom. That there are no right and wrong answers in certain subjects and, essentially, that everythign should be dumbed down to cater to the lowest common denominator. The scary part, to me, is that all of these things are widley accepted in certain parts of the education community not because they were new ideas that sprang up over night; but that they are old ideas that have spread slowly--like a cancer.

Worse yet, there are people in eduction that are trying to improve teaching styles, etc. but still depend on the base evils of altruism and collectivist thought as the foundation of their ideas. Which means that they will ultimately fail and worsen society. So even though they believe that they're helping they're only making things far, far worse.

The dilemma, as I see it, is in the education of educators. If we can foster honest ideas and philosophies in those classroom, then we can expect some real changes down the line. Otherwise, good luck. Good luck, because we'll have weak minded educators creating weak minded students that will grow up as lambs waiting for the slaughter.

Granted, experience and "education" are no excuse for a man to have an irrational mind, but how can have a rational society without a rationally educated public? The answer absolutely does not lie in government education centers. It lies in individuals and private institutions.

Robert Enders said...

Mike, most of these questions are agriculturally related. A rod was the standard distance between two fence posts in the 19th century and unless you have been taught that it is 16.5 feet long you are going to get the question wrong. I used to know it, but I had to look it up on Wikipedia. This matierial was appropriate for kids who worked on farms prior the the introduction of child labor laws.
It really isn't nessecary to teach this to kids who would need to know how much data can be stored on a terabyte hard drive.

Let's teach these kids what they will need to know in their careers and day to day lives. Teach them how to balance a check book, show them how to gap a spark plug, how to defrag a hard drive.

I propose that a majority of the members of the General Assembly be made to take and pass any test that high school students are required to take. Let no student ever be required to be smarter than the dumbest elected offical.

Bartleby said...

"Let no student ever be required to be smarter than the dumbest elected offical."

Dude ... I hope you're not serious about that. Things are entirely bad enough already, I assure you.

Here's an alternative idea. Give our glorious supervisors a test to find out whether they know how to spell obscenities such as compel, require, tax, compulsory, mandate, and so on. Take the ones who can spell these words out back and shoot them -- no appeal, no delay. Those who are familiar with these words may be presumed to have gained their familiarity through excessive on-the-job use.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I tend to like Bartleby's solution...

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