## Dumbing down our education

Well, 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, 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 hour 15 minutes)
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 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 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 6,720 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)
[Do we even know what this is??]
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.’ (HUH?)
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. 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.

Students were given FIVE HOURS to complete.
’ a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?! No wonder they dropped out after 8th grade. They already knew more than they needed to know!
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I’m buggered if I could pass that, even after college. It appears mostly to be fact and rule based memory work. A very tough test, but not much requirement to think for yourself or express original ideas. We are more enlightened now because we appreciate that wrote learning is not as valuable as the kind where you learn to analyse information and express your originality.
Or do we?
Contrast with the attitudes of those responsible for education policy today in Texas

Texas Republican delegates met earlier this month to put together their 2012 platform. Much of this focused on the educational system. Alarmingly, they openly state that they oppose schools teaching critical thinking, on the grounds that it may challenge ’student’s fixed beliefs’ and undermine ‘parental authority.’ Page 12 of their official platform(Pdf) discusses their thinking on teaching thinking."

In other words, if kids can learn how to think critically they might reject their religious teachings and realize how dumb their parents and law-makers are.
It must be really difficult to teach kids who can think, if you are as intelligent as a horse’s ass.

The party also notes its encouragement of legislation that prevents “non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States” from enrolling in public schools, a stance that federal officials have previously deemed against the law.

At least Texas still has corporal punishment in its school, so dumb-ass teachers can beat the shit our of any kid who thinks he understands something.

1 Vote
##### In answer to dumbing down education by Anonymous

Good article, but, some of your comments are somewhat off base. Also, if you could pass the 8th grade test of your grandfather, you would probably know the difference between wrote and rote.

In order to think, you must have something in your head to think about. The more facts you know, the more you are able to assimilate them in critical thinking. You can’t teach people to think. What you may be able to do is teach them a method (and mind set) for analyzing facts they have acquired.

Just for fun, lift your head, look at your ceiling and surroundings. After thinking about it, draw an accurate diagram of the electrical system. You’ll find that you need a few facts and a method, previously stored in your brain.

Another, very old, thought experiment is to meditate; empty your mind of all symbols; and wait for a pure thought to come, without the use of any symbol.

On the subject of the dumb-ass teachers; Someone very close to me once expressed the thought that the teachers should at least be as smart as the kids they are trying to teach.

On the subject of “non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States”; Why would I want to spend my (tax) money to educate criminals?

Keep up the thought provoking articles.