I’ve seen this before, but it is making the rounds of the internet again. It is a copy of the questions on the 8th grade exam given in Kentucky in 1912. The questions are hard, and much is way beyond what is taught to our 8th graders today.
The kind of math is also extremely practical for a farming, rural community. If they were to function in the world, young adults needed to know these things. As for grammar and spelling–well done here! I’m personally appalled at the extreme lack of ability many high school graduates have to express themselves properly in writing that I see today. Why these things aren’t taught is beyond me.
We have the best of athletic facilities, band and performance halls, extracurricular activities that take up every spare moment. But are our children really educated to deal with the world they will face?
How many know even the basics about personal finance? How many understand how completely the world is linked together and the real necessity of understanding other cultures and learning other languages with comfortable fluency? How many have any real understanding of basic biology, the workings of their bodies and what is necessary for healthy living? How many actually understand our governmental structure and are willing to participate in the political process? How many have the math and literacy skills just to fill out an insurance form or decipher a hospital bill?
They can shoot hoops and tackle opponents and make great music. This is wonderful. But there is a whole lot more to life. Just basic literacy and an ability to write a grammatically correct sentence goes a long way still. Texting language will not make it in the world of commerce, and we’re going to have a bunch of handicapped former students screaming for special privilege someday or wondering why they can’t get past an entry level position.
Most of the children in 1912 knew school was a privilege, did their school work in facilities that we would be appalled at, went home and worked the family farms, and still managed to get to church on Sundays. We don’t need the same knowledge as they had–we live in a different world. But we do need to know some things well, and I am really wondering if those things are being taught.
Here’s the exam. See how you do on it: