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Are we smarter than a 8th leveler?

Education, has it improved or are we dumber than we were in 1895? Ask a grandfather and you will hear, "We didn't have your fancy smarty phones, we had to use a slide rule or go to the library." Ask a high school student who just graduated from high school, get a different answer, "My smart phone has all the information in the Library of Congress, plus tic tok, on it. plus a calculator.. who needs a slider thing."

But are we smarter? Were they smarter? Do we need 2 more free years of school, aka community college?

Before we get started, lets make a few things clear. Education is relative to the time frame, someone from the late 1900's would be confused by a smart phone just like I'm confused by a slide rule.

Let's take history for $200 Lex.

Ahhh history.. well we need some first. Back in 1895 there were no age related grades, there were levels. There were only 8 levels of education for a 'elementary education'. Up until the second half of the 19th century, elementary education was the primary focus of public school systems. At that time, agriculture was still the driving force of the economy and many people felt that a basic elementary school education was sufficient for children who were needed to work on farms. Horance Mann first proposed universal elementary education. Massachusetts became the first state with compulsory school laws in 1852.

Mann also led the charge to change schools from a one-room schoolhouse that taught all children together to a multilevel format that separated children into separate grades by age. Mann's "age grading" system proved to be very successful and soon became the model for other public school systems around the country. However, it was not until 1918 that all children in the U.S. were required to attend at least elementary school... aka 8th grade.

There were no credits for graduation, there was an exit exam. Yep, you had to pass a test to graduate. Much like the proficiency test (that I made 100 on math, 100 on english) for graduation from the 8th grade of elementary school.

So what was on it? We picked history. Here is what an online search found:

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 States. 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 1865?

Letssss see....

Skip number 1, too hard... number 2 up right up my alley. "In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue."


Wait... nope. Here is the listed correct answer:

"2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

Although Leif the Lucky, known to history as Leif Ericson, a hardy Norseman from Greenland, discovered and established outposts along the northern coasts of America fully 500 years before Columbus, Christopher Columbus, a Genoese Italian mariner, is generally accredited with the modern discovery of America, although he never set foot on the mainland.

In his boyhood Columbus had studied drawing, geography and astronomy. He had been a sailor on the Mediterranean. He made his way to Lisbon, Spain, where he became a mapmaker, under the tutelage of a mariner whose patron was Prince Henry the Navigator. Becoming convinced that the world was a sphere, he sought to prove that the shortest distance to the East Indies was by sailing westward. He had the map of Toscanelli, and believed it was correct. Probably about 1474 he began to seek the means to furnish a fleet, seeking aid from Genoa, Portugal, Venice, France, and England. The King of Portugal sent a secret expedition westward to test the idea of Columbus, but they returned without sighting land. For ten long years Columbus endured these rebuffs, and secretly left Portugal for Spain toward the end of 1484. Queen Isabella finally gave her approval and remained his best friend during the rest of her life. She furnished fully half the money needed for the voyage. The fleet consisted of three vessels, small caravels furnished by the town of Palos. The largest, the Santa Maria was only sixty-three feet long and twenty feet in breadth. She had a small cabin, while the other two, the Pinta and the Nina were open boats with high bows and sterns, the better to ride the waves. Columbus commanded the Santa Maria as well as the fleet. The captains of the other two boats were the brothers Pinzon.

They sailed from Palos on August 3, 1492, and headed into unknown waters. It was not long before the crews wanted to turn back, threatening mutiny, as all kinds of fears and superstitions troubled them. The courage and determination of Columbus was equal to every occasion, holding the crews to their work. Early on the morning of October 12, 1492 they sighted one of the Bahama Islands. They had found a new world. Columbus thought he had found a part of India, and so he called the natives there Indians. They have been called indians ever since. But we know they are not, they are the native Americans. We celebrate October 12 as a school holiday, Columbus Day."

I just failed 8th level in 1895.


Notice how there is no multiple choice questions, all essay. Yep, the multiple choice question was invented because it was deemed too difficult for students to know all the information so they were allowed to guess. We are dumber now, the system is designed to allow it.

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