Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Could You Pass This Senior's Exam from 1895?


Not sure how true this is as it's been circulating the internet for some years, but I'm taking it at face value. Few of us Aussies would pass the exam because it is USA-centric, but how many of us would pass if we substituted Australian place names and people? Our knowledge of our country and its history is woeful indeed. I would hazard a guess that many adults would find it hard to answer an equivalent question given in metric terms.

At the National Home Education Conference in 2007 John Taylor Gatto spoke convincingly of the dumbing down of American education and how even simple farming folk were educated to a reasonable level that is often not attained in contemporary schools. Australia's John Peacok, author of the Why and How of Home Education in Australia, wrote about the high value placed on education by pioneering families, based on the need to survive and thrive in a harsh, unforgiving environment. One just has to dip into the study of history to see the evidence of a quality, largely home based, education system at work in past centuries.

Just another reminder of how far our education system has come...

The following is a copy of the final exam for 1895 8th grade students in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, Kansas, 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. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time: 65 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 12ft deep, 10ft long and 3ft wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weights 3942lbs, what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050lbs 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 6720lbs coal at $6 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $515.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16ft 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 Cheque, a Promissory Note and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time: 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which US History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the cause 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 and 1865.

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 centres of the U.S.
7. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
8. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean retunes to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Note: this exam takes nearly four hours to complete and was given to 12-14 year olds.

© Beverley Paine 2008

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