Re: The Dumbing Down of America

Subject: Re: The Dumbing Down of America
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 10:29:50 -0700

Dan Emory wrote:
> 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.

I have serious doubts about whether this is genuine. The language isn't
that of 1895, although possibly the extensive capitalization is meant to
suggest that it is. Moreover, no teacher of any era would be likely to
give such open-ended questions, without limiting the length of

However, leaving that question aside, I notice that, outside the
arithmetic section, much of what's required is rote learning. That's not
unuseful - assuming that the students would remember anything two hours
after the test. However, a good memory isn't necessarily a sign of
either intelligence or education. There are idiot-savants with
photographic memories, while seventy years ago in Yugoslavia, there were
oral poets with no schooling who were capable of presenting epic poems
that took several days to recite.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

"Fool's luck can only take you so far ... after that you have to get out
and walk."
-Tom Holt, "Olympiad"


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