Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Founding Father" observation

"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

—Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are you smarter than an eighth grader?

There is a TV show (or at least there used to be one) called, "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" I watched it a few times. I did pretty well - better than a lot of the contestants who had to get help from the kids, but not as well as some of the kids.

We make a lot of jokes today, sad jokes, about high school graduates often not even knowing how to read or write. Some of that is probably true, although not as bad as the British pundits running edited film clips depicting Americans in general as morons would have you believe. I hope.

Anyway, I ran across (online) an old graduation test (eighth grade) from a Kentucky school district from a hundred years ago, in 1912. Remember that back then it wasn't the norm to finish high school, and an eighth grade education was deemed adequate for many, even less for the farm boys. One would imagine that such a test for eighth graders would be a breeze for us modern folk to pass today. I thought I could. I quickly realized I couldn't. Not off the top of my head without further study.

The first thing I noticed about the test was that there were no multiple-guess questions; the kids had to write out their answers on many of them, and prove they could read by doing it in public. Writing too.  There were several sections to the test, and it must have taken quite some time to complete. I assume the kids were timed. The sections were:

Civil Government

I thought I could do most of this stuff pretty easily, but it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I don't think I would have passed. Back to eighth grade for me. Want to try a few questions? There's a lot of questions so I don't expect you to wade through it all. Also, some of this stuff is obsolete information today. I didn't understand the questions on some of them.

The reading and writing were given by teachers and judged by proctors. Can't do any of that here, but here are the words they had to spell:

(Click to enlarge if needed)

I liked the Arithmetic section because I like to analyze things. When I was still in school, I could often arrive at the right answer eventually, even if I couldn't remember the actual formula. I was very inventive. :)

Give some of the below arithmetic questions a shot.

Grammar I passed on. Some of the Geography questions were challenging though:

Anyway, I would like to see this test given to high school 10th graders today, and without multiple choice options.

If you would like to peruse the other sections, the entire test can be viewed here, and the answers can be found here.

School's out.


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