The Dumbing Down of America

Subject: The Dumbing Down of America
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 01:59:15 -0700

This is the 5-hour eighth-grade final exam from 1895
(well-before Ritalin) given by the public school in the small farm town of
Salina, Kansas. It was taken from the
original document on file at the Smoky Valley
Genealogical Society and Library in Salina,
and reprinted in modern times by the Salina Journal.

Presumably, the townspeople did not regard the
test as onerously difficult for their children, and
most of them must have passed it, else the 8th-grade
teacher would have been ridden out of town on a rail.
Certainly, there was no such thing as a non-literate
high school graduate in Salina, Kansas in 1895.

More than anything else, the test shows how far
secondary education in this country has fallen
in the past century. Notice the many essay-type
questions, and the total absence of multiple-choice
in the 45 questions.
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 50 cts.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
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
Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet,
phoneticorthography, etymology,
2. What are elementary sounds? How
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
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
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 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
10. Describe the movements of the earth.
Give inclination of the earth.

| Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory -at- primenet -dot- com
177 Riverside Ave., STE F, #1151, Newport Beach, CA 92663
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