I've often said to my fiancée that when/if we have children I think we should home school them. Why? Because I take note of how ignorant the kids of today seem to be of simple facts, or at least things I would think would be considered simple facts. I have customers almost everyday who need help with their electronic devices, mainly because they won't read the instructions and try to figure it out for themselves. No one thinks for themselves anymore. They want the answers handed to them or for someone to do it for them. We talk, now, about how kids graduate high school without some of the most basic skills. I have a friend who teaches civics and history on the high school level, and I remember him talking about how all the school board cares about is the students passing the End of Grade Tests. He showed me, once, some of the quizzes that he had given while doing his student teaching, and I was amazed at how stupid some of the answers were.
But as much as the generation coming behind me scares the shit out of me because they so obviously don't care or don't know how to think, or are so quick to believe a single person/group without trying to examine all the facts for themselves, I wonder about my own generation. I stumbled upon what was a End of Grade Exam from 1895 for the 8th Grade. I'm college educated. There was quite a bit of stuff on this exam that I didn't even know what it was talking about, let alone being able to answer it. Have we really been dumbed down that much in the last 100+ years of American public education? We already have forgotten how to speak and write proper English and “text speak” is even creeping into college term papers instead of whole sentences. Take a look at the 8th Grade Final Exam below and see how well you can do. Afterwards, think about how your great-grandparents or perhaps even your grandparents may have mentioned how they never finished school beyond the 8th or 9th grade. Still think you're more educated than them? You're probably not. Thanks to our public school system, we've all become stupid.
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 meter?
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 event s 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.
So, how did you do? Frankly, regarding the section on Orthography, I don't even know what the hell that is! Isn't it amazing that we live in the “information age” with the Internet and World Wide Web at our finger tips, and yet we know less rather than more?
Next week: “Still Burning Bright – Ray Bradbury's Classic Novel Fahrenheit 451”