Monday, June 10, 2013

Are You Smarter Than a 19th Century 8th Grader?

I love old books and enjoy collecting them. I spend a lot of time at this cute little used book store in town, and get absolutely giddy when I find a new bunch of really old books there. I love the way people wrote back in the day. I especially love when I find a book that has someone’s handwriting inside the cover or notes in the margins. The penmanship of long ago is just so elegant and graceful. You don’t see that today. In fact, many schools no longer even teach cursive, favoring keyboarding classes in its place. Seeing a name penned inside a book makes me wonder about that person. Who were they? How did they die? When did they receive the book? To whom was it passed?

I enjoy reading biographies about people who lived in different times. I just finished one written by the nanny of the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret which was interesting. I loved that there were some pages of photographs in that book as well. I also enjoy looking at old school texts; I have a couple school books in my collection, including a fifth reader from 1896 and a book on words, their definitions, spellings, and applications from 1903.

I also have a copy of an 8th grade exam from 1895. I wonder how many 8th graders would pass it today. Heck, I wonder how many adults would pass it today. Working in a middle school, my first thought was that education has really gone downhill in the past 100+ years, as I’m certain that not one of my students would pass this. Although I still feel that education has slipped, I think that it’s changed more than gone completely downhill. For example, kids in 1895 didn’t know how to create a power point presentation; kids today do. Kids in 1895 didn’t know how complete a research paper online; kids today do.

Anyway, take this 8th grade test with your kids. Did they pass? Did you?

Continue reading here to take the 8th grade exam from 1895.

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