Saturday, June 10, 2017

The One Room School House

This is an Eighth Grade final examination from 1895. Note the use of the word "examination" instead of "exam".  This was not a multiple choice test.  If you were an eighth grade student in 1895 your teacher would decide on the basis of your answers to these questions whether or not you were a dumbass.  If you adjudged to be a dumbass you would not receive your Eighth grade diploma and your education would end.

How well would you do?

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 do, lie, lay 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. per bu, 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 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 inch?
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 around 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, and 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, super.
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 N.A.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give 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 inclination of the earth.

I am willing to bet that fifty percent of today's  college graduates would fail this exam.

It's no secret that our educational standards have dropped so low that I'm amazed anyone under the age of forty can read this.

There are a lot of reasons why and I am will to bet just about all of them are right.  There really is no one thing.

Although there is without question a first thing.

Getting rid of the One Room School House.

Cataline has family in the teaching profession or at least he used to.  One of them went into Special Ed.  I casually asked her why and her answer has stuck with me.  She told me, "I'm tired of teaching to the Middle.  In the system we have now, the smart kids can't help but get bored past a certain point.  The ones that need the most help, fall to the bottom because they end up being neglected. The only kids that do all right with the system we have now are the ones in the middle and they are boring as hell to teach.

At least with Special Ed, I'm doing some good for someone who needs it."

So wouldn't the One Room School House have been worse?  You ask.

Well actually no.  We can start with the fact that the school day began with Christian prayer.

Almighty God, Our Heavenly Father, from Whom all life and all true gladness springs.  We pray You to send Your blessings upon this school, upon those who teach and upon those who learn, that accepting daily the guidance of the Holy Ghost and holding fast to all that is good.  May we worship and serve You all our days through Jesus Christ our lord.  Amen.

These words are, as you know, a serious criminal offense if you are a member of the modern teaching profession and would result in your being barred from pedagogy for the rest of your life, if you even murmured them under your breath.

Having asked for the Almighty's blessing the children got down to the day's lessons.  The question you probably have is how did they make it work?  All grades being in one room and all.

I'll answer that question with a question.  What is the best way to learn something?

Answer: you teach it to someone else.

The older students would coach the younger ones.  The Third Years would tutor the First Years on reading, the Eighth Years would drill the Fifth Years on Algebra and so on.

Part of the reason that standards were higher was that the more advanced stuff was presented to the younger students in the class room before they actually had to learn it.

Debates were conducted.  Rhetoric was learned, then developed. Critical reasoning was a necessary skill to complete a primary school education.

All of this was accomplished by local communities without a Department of Education standing on their shoulders and telling them the proper pronunciation of the pronoun "xyr".

There was a time that I was against home schooling.  I didn't like the social results.  Those kids tended to be just a little too wide eyed and innocent to get along well in today's world.

Now I see home schooling as our only hope.


Duke Norfolk said...

Indeed, that is quite eye-opening. And I think your 50% figure is probably low. And the number that could even read the exam with any decent amount of comprehension is probably depressingly low. I know that I'd have to study up some to pass this; even putting aside such now-arcane concepts as rods, bushels, etc. And I'm no genius but was a 99th percentile student/test-taker back in the day. (54 yo retired AF pilot)

But even if you "updated" it to reflect contemporary times it wouldn't really change the result for the general population. I mean really, Orthography? I had to look that term up. And heaven knows NONE of that material is covered these days, is it?

And the climate question would result in answers like, "it's that thing that man is changing rapidly which will result in the end of the Earth", or some such rot.

And your point about teaching being the best way to learn is spot on. I fully realized this when I became a flight instructor in the AF. Nobody knew and understood their stuff like the instructors, even very young ones. And it wasn't because they were selected for that (some, but not entirely), but because the process of teaching really forces you to understand the subject. You know the drill, I'm sure.

But that dynamic is rarely if ever utilized in today's schools. We've totally lost our way. But that's just another symptom of our dysfunctional and corrupted society, as much as a cause.

((( bob kek mando ))) - ( Give us this day our daily bait, that we may crush our enemies, see their weaksauce driven before us and hear the lamentations of their women, thank you Baby Jesus, Amen ) said...

one thing i've realized is that there was a MAJOR sociological shift, post WW2.

in which the Silents and Boomers decided that it was impermissible for them to teach their own children anything ... that only a certified 'expert' could be trusted to train children ... in any subject.

their parents ( my grandparents ) didn't believe this.

Cataline Sergius said...


That was one of the disasters to befall American Education.

And the amazing thing was just how badly it worked out.

When I was in college the "Studies" programs were just a minor academic ghetto that the illiterate winners of the government mandated You-Got-Education lottery were funneled into.

They were looked down on but nowhere near as much as the Education colleges were looked down on. The rest of the university regarded those departments as the home for the university's special needs, handy-capable students.

Which at the time I found terrifying because good lord man look at the future. They are going to be teachers. What will their students turn out like?

Well we know the answer to that one now, don't we?

Kentucky Headhunter said...

One of my wife's teacher friends was scandalized that we were teaching our first-born the alphabet at home. She said it would be nearly impossible since we didn't know the "four-block method" or some such and would hurt him when he actually started school.

Only the dumbest people were in the Education major when I went to college 30+ years ago. Dumpy girls but with generally sweet personalities that thought it would be great to have every summer off from work.