Poll

Well?

Aced it.
1 (33.3%)
Flunk'D!
0 (0%)
Flunk'D...and I'm a college graduate.
0 (0%)
What is the cutoff for "Flunk'D," again?
2 (66.7%)

Total Members Voted: 2

Author Topic: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895  (Read 1697 times)

Lord J Esq

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Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« on: September 03, 2006, 09:40:16 pm »
Were students smarter in the past? Held to a higher standard? Was education more strigent? Let's have a look into the face of history, and decide for ourselves. But, for myself, in the here and now, I can say this: I failed the test...

http://skyways.lib.ks.us/kansas/genweb/ottawa/exam.html

In any case, after reading that page, you will find it easier to understand why so many people failed to make it through the lower grades back in those days.

A friend of mine, when I showed this to him but did not tell him what it was, said it was not reasonable even for college graduates to be able to ace, notwithstanding geniuses and memorization wonks. When I told him it was a test for fourteen-year-old kids, he scoffed and brushed it off as a memorization fest. I'm not so sure.

Oh, and do note the bonus material at the bottom of the page, which details a list of rules for teachers to abide by. The thickness of Christianity back then is more than simply disgusting.

GrayLensman

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2006, 12:23:54 am »
I like how practical all the math question are.  It simply highlights the state of today's education system.

Daniel Krispin

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2006, 10:26:04 pm »
Okay, I wouldn't pass it, but that doesn't matter. A kid from back then wouldn't be able to pass one of our tests, either. Why? Emphasis on what is taught. For example, I have no clue on how big a bushel is, but who cares? That doesn't make me less smart than someone who answered it correctly in those times, it merely means I have no use for that unit of measurement. I know my metric, and can convert it to imperial for a number of measurements, and that is what matters. If you'd given me metric questions of that sort back in Grade 8, I'd have been able to do it. Most certainly if my teacher was gearing me to learn specifically those things.

Because, you see, that is often how teachers teach: geared for their own exams. I see that all the time. For example, take your standard Latin Literature in Translation class, get the students to write the test I had in my class, and they'd have failed it. Heck, most Classics graduates would have. But I aced it. But does that make them stupid and me smart? Not in the least. My teacher taught, essentially, Seneca, Tacitus, Lucan, and Petronius. Now, the first two aren't odd, but the last two are. In fact, my professor focussed on Neronian works, whereas most Latin Lit classes go with the standard Augustan, I figure. But my professor knew she was teaching toward a specific set of learning, and tested us appropriately. That is the explanation. Thus, students were not much smarter then... they were merely taught a different set of skills and knowledges.

Beyond the math questions, I'd know about 50% on the grammer segments. A bit more if I'd had a teacher drilling me on the exact uses for the past year. Most of the kids likely forgot it quickly enough. US history... nope, don't know that. A bit better at Canada. But, again, curriculum. I'm absolutely certain that I was comparatively as knowledgeable. Not in US history, of course, but world history. In grade 8, I was learning the basics of the ancient world. I can't tell you what happened in 1607, but I can tell you 2400, 1200BC, 750BC, and so on (for example, even in grade 8 I could tell you the Pyramids were built in the 2400s BC, the location of the first pyramid, the pharaoh who ordered it, and the architect.)  For Orthography, well, that's something that's fallen away from our modern teaching system, but it's been replaced with other things. I notice physics and chemistry is distinctly lacking.

When it comes right down to it, right now I could get probably... 30% on it? Probably a bit less. However, switch US history with world history, innane mathematical systems with metric, and the geography with something more pertinant and modern (republics of Europe? Well, I should think a child in the 1800s could name them! My sisters can name and locate the countries of Europe, which are far more numerous than the old republics), ... I could get more than 75%. In Grade 8, at least a pass. What it shows is not a genious or a stupid person, but merely a difference of focus. Even nowadays that's true. Lord J, you come up here and take a Grade 8 social test, I bet you you'd flunk, what with all that Canadian history - but what's it to you? Same thing. It can't be taken as a mark of the intelligence of the students. Nor is theirs neccessarially better.

I will, however, say that teaching has taken a downturn. I like the old-fashioned, building from strong foundations and basics approach, rather than the more flighty sort we get nowadays. But, stepping back and looking at this test, looking at its overall difficultly as objectively as I can... it's not that bad.

So I voted for the last, because my response is conditional.

An addendum, here's my proof for my thesis:
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
Bingo. They were being taught specifically. I bet you not one of the kids in that class, even one who aced it, would have been able to tell me when the pyramids were built, or even when the Egyptian civilization existed. As such, I wouldn't laud it too highly The only real solution is a more one-on-one approach, that allows for open questioning. That sort of education gave us the old Greek models, but can hardly be applied in pracice nowadays. 
« Last Edit: September 11, 2006, 10:32:35 pm by Daniel Krispin »

ZeaLitY

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2006, 12:08:16 am »
I agree for the most part, though I do wish secondary education taught you how to file a tax return and things like that. Everyone should have an individual income tax class. It's part of being an American. That kind of practicality is appealing to me.

Daniel Krispin

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2006, 12:30:28 am »
I agree for the most part, though I do wish secondary education taught you how to file a tax return and things like that. Everyone should have an individual income tax class. It's part of being an American. That kind of practicality is appealing to me.

Yeah. Though I think we have something a bit like that here, at least in name: a High School course by the name of CALM, ie. Career and Life Management. I'd imagine it is supposed to teach things like that, though knowing the way things go, I'd expect it doens't quite live up to the name. It's mandatory for a High School Diploma, but I managed to avoid it, which accounts partially for my not having a Diploma (not that anyone cares anymore, anyway. This ring on my finger is far more valuable in getting a job than any High School credit.)

However, it is for this very reason that Home Schooling is gaining a bit of ground, I think. Parents are far more apt at teaching their children life skills such as this than a teacher is. My own frugality, or at least good use of, my money comes in no small part from having been taught it by my mother. Of course, there is the social negative to Home Schooling, but academically, as well as teaching skills such as this, it is far the superior.

ZeaLitY

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2006, 09:18:38 am »
Oh boy, I'd caution homeschooling for the social aspect. I knew a couple homeschoolers recently, and they were social retards. They acted three years below their age and had nearly no friends.

Daniel Krispin

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2006, 02:20:25 pm »
Oh boy, I'd caution homeschooling for the social aspect. I knew a couple homeschoolers recently, and they were social retards. They acted three years below their age and had nearly no friends.

Well, here I'm speaking from experience (being homeschooled), and on that point I'd very much agree. I wouldn't call myself a social retard (not any more at any rate) but I'm not the most sociable of people, though I figure that to be less the impact of school, and more of character and genetics (my whole family is a bit like that, including my parents.) I'm friendly and all and know how to act rightly in social settings, but don't have many friends because I'm not very fun to be around, particularly because I honestly don't like the joking and drinking that most of my age partake in (at least, that was the case in engineering.) After all, how many in university (none that I've found) would rather sit in a coffee shop and discuss some philisophical concept, rather than go to the bar and get drunk of a Friday night? In fact, I connect far better with peers of my parents, and that age-group. Moreover, I'm difficult to place into any category: I'm not a nerd, I'm not cool, I'm not... anything really categorizable, according to my best friend in University. I'm just me.

However, that said, I can say I would not recommend home-schooling usually, unless the school system is absolutely abysmal. There are, of course, good and bad ways of homeschooling, to the skill of the parent teaching. My mother did a rather good job, but there was the problem of having a severely handicapped sister in the house. For years it very much limited any real social interaction, as our whole family was more or less housebound. But if not for that, it might have gone far better. But would it have gone better in school? I doubt it. The few years I did got to school in grades 4 and 5 weren't the best - I was the smart kid, so you can figure how that went. If that had gone on for all the grades, I rather figure I would have become extremely resentful. As it was, going back to school at the mid-point of High School, I found myself alright. And in university... well, I wasn't a smart kid anymore. Most of my fellow engineering students were smarter than me, and I did my work as an 'anti-keener', as it were. I can't honestly say that it would have neccessarially been better had I gone to school from the start.

cupn00dles

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2006, 03:55:39 pm »
Assed it?!  :lee:

Burning Zeppelin

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2006, 04:30:35 am »
I dunno, for some reason most Uni students here are more...artsy...sitting in coffee shops, talking, and so forth.

Lord J Esq

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2006, 05:43:45 am »
Moreover, I'm difficult to place into any category: I'm not a nerd, I'm not cool, I'm not... anything really categorizable, according to my best friend in University. I'm just me.

That smacks of false modesty to me, where "just me" is a euphemism for declaring yourself above the pursuit of labels. I could think of a couple categories for you, "pedant" being not the least of them. I can think of some more generous ones as well. There's nothing wrong with a label, when it fits.

As to your main reply to this topic, that's a verbose but well-argued way of calling this test an exercise is nothing more than memorization--much like the argument made by the friend I mentioned in the first post. I'm not convinced that the questions on that test are so stylized and so specific as to preclude the original exclamation point in all of this: No test in American education today would put an eighth grader to that degree of academic examination. Your thesis, well and good as it is, never replies to that core observation.

The more interesting discussion here, which of course attracted so little interest, is the nature of American education today, relative both to the current sum of human knowledge, and to American education of the past. Gray probably made the best point so far, about the conspicuous relevance of the math questions.

There's no question that public education is vastly superior to both private and parental education, when measured collectively. And there's no question that public education has nevertheless blundered its way--mostly by political mismanagement--into a shade of ignominy so rich it defies purchase. But there's quite an extraordinary question of the terrain between what we have and what we want public education in America to be.

Daniel Krispin

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2006, 02:55:31 pm »
That smacks of false modesty to me, where "just me" is a euphemism for declaring yourself above the pursuit of labels. I could think of a couple categories for you, "pedant" being not the least of them. I can think of some more generous ones as well. There's nothing wrong with a label, when it fits.

False modesty? Far from it, Lord J. Rather, it is arrogance, as I'm bloody proud of that. You are right there is nothing wrong with a label (pedant, that's a funny one, and one I'm forced to agree with) , or even that there are several categories for me - it is only that it is not easy to put me securely in a single one. And 'just me' does not declare myself above labels (at least not solely), but rather assertion of myself and my unwillingless to conform to the mass in many regards.

As to your main reply to this topic, that's a verbose but well-argued way of calling this test an exercise is nothing more than memorization--much like the argument made by the friend I mentioned in the first post. I'm not convinced that the questions on that test are so stylized and so specific as to preclude the original exclamation point in all of this: No test in American education today would put an eighth grader to that degree of academic examination. Your thesis, well and good as it is, never replies to that core observation.

That is what I essentially said at the end, specifically by citing the question directed towards Kansas. Alright, I'll admit that today's 8th grade is probably rather lacking, and that the average student of that level couldn't do this or a comparitive modern test. But that you or I couldn't do well on it? That does not show a deficiency in our education, but merely a different focus. Hard as one might try, everything cannot be learned and remembered. One can only learn so much, and for me, for example, American history (or at least the specifics thereof neccessary for such a test as this) is far, far down the list. But replace those numbers with world history, with 1066, with dates of comparitive world importance, and I should fare better.

Nor am I wholly willing to accept your stance. True, it might not be memorization, but it can be guided towards certain main points, which makes this far easier. You see, when asked to do this test now, we must write it off our general knowledge, from things that may be years back in our learning. That makes it more difficult. A student, even in Grade 8, writing this would have learned those specific topics (if not the specific questions) at some point in the past year. They would have recently learned the importance of those dates in American history (many I probably never learned at all, but might only be able to guess through interpolation), being taught with such a test in mind. 

The more interesting discussion here, which of course attracted so little interest, is the nature of American education today, relative both to the current sum of human knowledge, and to American education of the past. Gray probably made the best point so far, about the conspicuous relevance of the math questions.

Mathematics has suffered greatly, I will not dispute that. It has come the point of being absurd in the way it is taught, really. However, I was taught mathematics in Grade 8 by my mother, who did it rather well, so it is difficult for me to judge exactly how bad. If my mother had figured for a test like this, asking questions like that, you can be sure I would have known the neccessary concepts by the end of the year. The public school system, however... in recent years, perhaps it has declined. But in some ways I'm unwilling to take the 'things were better in days of yore' stance, partially after reading how many ancient writers speak against the gradual worsening of things, which at the rate they seem to have foreseen would long ago have led to our utter destruction - a thing which has not happened yet. And, lastly of all, keep in mind that to judge the time by a single test would be a dangerous extrapolation. How do you know this is not an oddity written by a particularly nasty teacher?

There's no question that public education is vastly superior to both private and parental education, when measured collectively.

Socially, yes. Intellectually, no. My mother, for example, is a better teacher than 98% of teachers in the first eight grades, and was fully capable of teaching me and my sisters. Her amount of preperation and own learning outmatched that of a large majority of teachers, with whom she has come into conflict. Public education has always since its inception been merely a neccessary way of educating the population at large. Far better has always been singular, or at least small, education, where information is not merely spoon-fed but a certain love of learning itself is instilled. Public education may be superior for its social impact on students, but when averaging the two, even if public pulls out ahead as the better, it is not by a vast margin. I can say this having known both. In the end, the final word to that is that certain children fare better one way, others another. I do not thing the public school system would have done well for me in the earlier grades - university, even high school, that was all good and fine. But the earlier ones would have frustrated me to no end. My youngest sister, however, willfully told my mother she doesn't want to be homeschooled any more, and wants to go to school - they let her, and she's doing fine there. One of the others was at school for a bit, but chose to come back to homeschooling. So it really does depend on the person.

Lord J Esq

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2006, 04:12:45 am »
There's no question that public education is vastly superior to both private and parental education, when measured collectively.

Socially, yes. Intellectually, no. My mother, for example, is a better teacher than 98% of teachers in the first eight grades…

I think not. Ol’ Josh had some darn good teachers along the way. Were they the exception to the rule? I don’t know. But I can tell you that your mother definitely is. Most kids have monstrously inept parents, and whereas the public education system has the power (irrespective of its success thereupon) to enforce standards and accountability, leading to better educational methods and better teachers, nobody has that same power over parents who decide to school their own children. That’s why I used the word “collectively.” For every one Daniel Krispin there are twenty numbskulls and twenty nimrods. If school were a family affair, then a modern, comprehensive education would not be viable for most children.

And, we’re assuming that your education is as good as you claim. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that it is, but the doubt is quite real.

No, my distinguished friend…for all its faults in execution, when it comes to potential and efficacy alike, public education is remarkably superior to home schooling. History—which you love so truly and yet demonstrate so little awareness of—has shown us the weaknesses of parents as teachers. Indeed, it goes further than that. History has also shown us the weaknesses of parents as parents. The weaknesses of public education as we know it are insignificant compared to the ineptitude of the family-unit social model.

Public education has always since its inception been merely a neccessary way of educating the population at large. Far better has always been singular, or at least small, education, where information is not merely spoon-fed but a certain love of learning itself is instilled. Public education may be superior for its social impact on students, but when averaging the two, even if public pulls out ahead as the better, it is not by a vast margin. I can say this having known both.

What a beautiful red herring! I can never tell if you’re even more clever than you let on, or simply naïve about the weaknesses in your own critical thinking apparatus. Let’s agree that any successful educational model will require motivated teachers. Let us simply agree that the best teachers will learn as they teach, and will awaken in more students not only the kernels of knowledge that feed the mind, but the spark of curiosity that feeds the spirit.

That smacks of false modesty to me, where "just me" is a euphemism for declaring yourself above the pursuit of labels. I could think of a couple categories for you, "pedant" being not the least of them. I can think of some more generous ones as well. There's nothing wrong with a label, when it fits.

False modesty? Far from it, Lord J. Rather, it is arrogance, as I'm bloody proud of that.

In that moment, I can believe you. Maybe that’s why you call me “Lord J” all the time. But I know something of arrogance…and of human character. To defy being labeled is an unwinnable struggle—and, more than that, an unworthwhile one. You want to believe that people cannot figure you out so easily. You want to believe that you don’t fit in so smoothly with the crass mainstays of your society. You want to believe you are powerful, intelligent, unique…blessed. You want others to believe it too, and to do so earnestly. That’s why you first mentioned that bit about your friend saying you defy categorization. But this aspect of one’s self-image is very intimate, very personal, and it is unthinkable to you that you should be seen soliciting testimonials to your greatness as though you were a beggar holding out his palms, because you think it would diminish you. You think it would diminish you to be seen engineering your legacy as though the inner core of your being were inadequate and you were trying to make up for it by expensive additions to the house of your character. Insecurity, is what that is. So you maintain this air of humility, all the while never swerving from your own convictions of superiority. “False modesty” is exactly the right term for it. And your arrogance, in this case, is a decoy fashioned for none other than you yourself!

The public school system, however... in recent years, perhaps it has declined. But in some ways I'm unwilling to take the 'things were better in days of yore' stance, partially after reading how many ancient writers speak against the gradual worsening of things, which at the rate they seem to have foreseen would long ago have led to our utter destruction - a thing which has not happened yet.

Now here’s the best observation in your entire reply. That’s very well-said, Daniel, and astute too.

And, lastly of all, keep in mind that to judge the time by a single test would be a dangerous extrapolation. How do you know this is not an oddity written by a particularly nasty teacher?

That’s a good question. I’d like to say that I know enough American history to vouch for this particular test’s representativeness of comparable exams in that day. But I don’t want anybody to have to trust me, when the truth speaks for itself. I encourage you, and anyone else who is interested, to investigate on your own initiative.

You may even find that I was wrong about everything…

ZeaLitY

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2006, 09:22:48 am »
The "Enlightenment Factor™" as my public school was a handful of teachers dedicated to maintaining an AP program. Thanks to them, we outclassed several regional private schools and utterly flattened the other public high schools here. I believe only around five kids from the other ones took AP tests in the two years they were available to me, whereas at least 75-100 from my school took them.

Judging from the example of Jaime Escalante, this seems to be the ticket. Over a few years, this man transformed an inner city ghetto into a calculus machine. He proved that poor inner-city blacks and hispanics could take derivatives with the best of them. If this man were an army, the United States would be unquestionably leading the world in education. The stupid teacher's union that drummed him out can go straight to hell. Just look at his quotes:

Quote from: JE
The day someone quits school he is condemning himself to a future of poverty.

Determination + Discipline + Hard Work = Way to Success.

 :lee:
« Last Edit: September 15, 2006, 09:25:16 am by ZeaLitY »

Radical_Dreamer

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Re: Eighth Grade Tests of Yore: Saline County, Kansas, 1895
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2006, 10:19:01 pm »
I don't fully agree. Dropping out of college was probably one of the smartest things I've done. As it stands, I'm saving nearly 1/3rd of my post-tax income, and that's not even taking in to account the overpayments on my student loan I make each month. But I may not have been the normal case.

I went to public school for my entire compulsory education. It was, by and large, a waste of my time. The thing about public school is that it is good almost exclusively for socializing children. I agree that this is a worthwhile goal, but that is not the principle goal of a school. At a school, one should recieve an education. I went to a Blue Ribbon (I think. It was Blue something) school, which means a school that recieves special recognition as being one of the best in the state, and California has quite a lot of schools.

Most of the teachers didn't care, and some actively created an environment that was hostile to learning and intelligence. There were a few very good teachers, this is true, but even still, their effectiveness was crippled by the standards Josh mentioned. The problem with standards and regulations isn't that they create a minimum standard, it's that they also create a maximum. A maximum that was wholey insufficient for me.

It is quite a conflict. On the one hand, society is certainly made better by having an educated populace. On the other, when the schools not only fail to educate, but because of the unforgivable amount of time they steal, become an impedement to education, something must be done. Everyone always says private schools are better, but I'd really like to see some hard numbers to back that up.