We are put to shame by 1895 Grade 8 kids

Exams and university papersHave you seen this? Could you have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

Some of the first section is daunting even to me, and I love words and grammar. Do you know the nine rules for the use of Capital Letters? (Question number one) I probably do, having absorbed them into my being over the years, but could I actually articulate them? That might be an exercise to try sometime, come to think of it.

I do actually know the answers in the first section (I’d better, in my line of work), but the thing that should give all of us pause is that this was a test given to thirteen-year olds. We probably know few thirty-year olds who could pass section one of the test, let alone kids in their early teens.

Someone remarked to me today that things might not be as bad as all that, since kids today are able to do lots of things that the grade 8 kids of 1895 couldn’t do, so it all evens out. However, I’m not so sure. It seems to me that most of the questions in the first three sections (Grammar, Arithmetic, U.S. History) should be things all educated citizens of the world ought to be able to handle. And the same goes for the fifth section (Geography). And indeed, section four (Orthography) is mainly about spelling correctly and understand prefixes, suffixes, and homonyms.

This 8th grade test actually looks to me like something we could all work on. If we got to the point where we could answer all the questions correctly, we’d be pretty well-rounded individuals as far as our general education.

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