Sunday, 30 October 2011


     A school chum from high school days circulates these pieces of news and information among us survivours with some frequency.   She was one of the "very bright" bulbs in the chandelier.  So, her protestations notwithstanding, she would have done well on the test...a 98 or 99 probably, after a bit of preparation on the night before.  Especially by the eighth grade.
   At our school, David Crockett Elementary in McAllen, Texas....our three combined 6th grade classes score an average of 12th grade plus 4 months on our collective final "aptitude tests".    It was in the upper one percent of the nation, at the time, but it was a peculiarly sharp bunch of urchins.
     Her point is, depressingly, well-taken however.    The regimen for a high school diploma from 1970 and before could not and would not be tolerated by the NEA or any school boards now.  It just wouldn't be "fair" to the children.   Our regimen was still nothing like what was the norm during the first half of the the 1900s.   We have changed especially the public schools  into feeding stations teaching how to pass a test rather than to know, understand, and apply knowledge to the world around us and our lives in that world.

     I remember when we took our daughter to Southwest Texas State University to dump her off on the world.  The parents were given an orientation...which included a morose presentation by the drama department about what a miserable bunch of slugs boys are and how all our daughters were sluts....making themselves available to all kinds of diseases and violence...and that they had come to University in order to be DATE  RAPED....and it was all our faults and George Bush did nothing to prevent it.  (he was governor of Texas then.   Got us into a war with  Bermuda and Samoa)   Not only that, but SWTSU had its own real-live POH-lice Department and when they pick up our child, it was going to be up to her to figure out how to bail out or plea bargain to her best possible legal defense.  After all, she's gotta grow up sumtyme!    Ah! The lofty aims of Acadame'

> 1895 Eighth Grade Graduation Exam,
( forwarded to the Gringo Viejo and various of the same graduating class about 342 years ago from a high school somewhere on the American border with Mexico.)
> What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...
> Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only
> had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have
> passed the 8th grade in 1895?
> This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas , USA . It
> was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley
> Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina
> Journal.
> 8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , Kandsas
- 1895
> Grammar (Time, one hour)>
      1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
> 2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
> 3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
> 4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of
> 'lie,''play,' and 'run.'
> 5. Define case; illustrate each case.
> 6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
> 7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you
> understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
> Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)>

      1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
> 2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many
> bushels of wheat will it hold?
> 3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel,
> deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
> 4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000.. What is the necessary levy
> to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for
> incidentals?
> 5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
> 6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
> 7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft.. Long at $20
> per metre?
> 8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
> 9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of
> which is 640 rods?
> 10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt
> 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,
> 1865.
> Orthography (Time, one hour)>

      1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography,
> etymology, syllabication
> 3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals,
> diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
> 4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'
> 5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions
> under each rule.
> 6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
> 7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi,
> dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
> 8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name
> the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell,
> rise, blood, fare, last.
> 9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane,
> fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
> 10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by
> use of diacritical marksd by syllabication.
> Geography (Time, one hour)&gt

      1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
> 2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
> 3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
> 4. Describe the mountains of North America
> 5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba
> , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco
> 6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the
> republics of Europe and give the capital of each..
> 8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
> 9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the
> sources of rivers.
> 10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

> Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete. Gives the saying 'he
> only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn't it?!
> No wonder they dropped out after 8th grade. They already knew more than
> they needed to know!!


The Gringo Viejo, ever the blowhard, responded thusly:

Bye You're fresh chrimp's hear.   While suplie's lasts.
5 pound's -  $9

     My father would show the his students (back in the 1950s) his mother's primary and secondary text books from that era.   She was born in 1870.    She went to public school in Minneapolis at first and then attended an Episcopal school at the St. Michael's Cathedral and later graduated from the University of Minnesota with a couple of degrees.    They could not believe it.   And then when we compare what we were working with then as opposed to the bilge and fill time instruction, I am amazed that the ones coming out of secondary here can even work an automatic elevator that goes up or down three floors.      My other grandmother (born in 1895), the one in Tennessee, had enough books to allow the children to share, two on one.   Since they were so far away from anything, they had "the coloured exemption", because they had very few Negroes in Franklin County.   So the black children, (3) all cousins, went to school with the 9 whites and 4 Cherokee children.   They were distributed fairly evenly over 8 grades.  
    My grandmother had a "real live" certificate.   She had attended the University of Tennessee's Normal and Pedagogy Department and passed their requirements for being an elementary teacher.   She taught near her home, but still had to assure that she maintained "curfew" and would not move about especially at night without proper concern for her own chaperonage as required of a single woman,  and to avoid alcohol and any scandal of turpitude.    All the children in her classes went on to become professional people and/or officers or  non-commissioned officers in the Military.
     My mother and father both worked with me with those text books at very early ages.   We still have some of them somewhere around in the family....most of the "students" at Mission High or almost any High right now would have difficulty even attempting to read them now.   Passing the above test would be beyond the scope of any reason in these days....for 99% of the "students' now'.

     I stumbled through the examination you sent.  Did alright, but it's either ignorance or dementia that slowed me down a bit.   Don't ever get to be my age.     The caret U is a proof reading advisory for the need of some recommended insertion-in-text.  That is about the only place this humble ghostwriter and commentator has seen the term or heard of the term.

Thanks for the note. 
El Gringo Viejo