This is from an article in our local newspaper, written by a retired pastor of an area church. I found this interesting and particularly telling as far as the state of comtemporary education in America.
"What 'Only an eighth-grade education' meant"
"For most of my life, and certainly now, I have marveled at how much my parents really knew, even though their formal
public school education ended with the eighth grade.
I received information from college basketball coach and teacher Denny Lehnus about what students were expected to
know for their final exams in 1895. Space limitations will not allow me to use all the questions, but you will get the idea.
I hear on the newscasts, read in the newspapers and magazines that education in the United States is failing.
We all have our opinions as to why that may or may not be true. We do know that we have serious problems with public
education. Mr. Lehnus has spent his life in higher education. Here is what he passed on to me.
"Remember when parents, grandparents and great-grandparents only had an eighth grade education? Could any of us
have passed the eighth 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 there at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library. Some highlights:
Grammar. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications. Define verse, stanza, and paragraph. What are the
principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of "lie," "play" and "run." Define case, illustrate each case. What is punctuation?
Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
Arithmetic. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic. A wagon box is 2 feet deep, 10 feet long and 3 feet wide.
How many bushels of wheat will it hold? If a load of wheat weights 3,942 pounds, what is it worth at 50 cents a bushel,
decucting 1,050 pounds for tare? 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? Find the cost of 6750 pounds of coal at $6 per ton.
Find the interest of $512.60 for eight months and 18 days at 7 percent.
U.S. History. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War. Show the territorial growth of the United States. Tell what you can
of the history of Kansas. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
Orthography. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication? What are elementary
sounds? How are they classified? What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals.
Give four substitutes for caret "u." Give two rules for spelling words with final "e." Name two exceptions under each rule. Give two uses of
of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
Geography. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend? How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean? Describe the mountains of North America. Name and describe the following:
Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecia, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco. Name and locate the
principal trade centers of the United States.
"The total exam took five hours to complete," Lehnus wrote. "It gives the saying, 'He only had an eighth grade education' a
whole new meaning, doesn't it?" He added, "I question whether there are many who have doctoral degrees who could ace this one."
Paul was correct when he advised young Timothy: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be
ashamed..." (2 Timothy 2:15). There is so much to know, and we know so little. Bill Ellis, former pastor.