Kansas 1895 Grade 8 Graduation!!
Sunday, August 09, 2020
My sister shared this with me. Some of our immediate ancestors -- prior to our parents -- had grade 8 "only"! Our great grandparents, both our grandfathers and one of our grandmothers -- grade 8 if that.
The other grandmother, for whom I'm named, actually completed high school and taught in a one room grades 1-8 school house. That was then a huge achievement!!
My mother, who skipped twice, started high school at age 11 (when she was still in Brownies!!) and was able to complete one year of post-secondary teachers' college ( "normal school" ) -- achieving more formal education than any of her 9 brothers and sisters. She also taught in such one room school houses. Until she married: married ladies weren't permitted to teach! Nor in the 50s was she deemed welcome with "normal school" only to join the local "university women's club" -- although she completed the cryptic crossword daily. In ink. Before breakfast!!
My father also skipped twice and went off to high school at age 11, which for him required taking the train from his small home village to the "big city" and boarding Sunday night through Thursday night. He too started one-room school house teaching after "normal school" but later completed a B.A. and a B.Ed. through extension and summer courses. That made it possible for him to become first a principal and than a school inspector.
But . . . many, many people had just grade eight. "Just". However -- this is what it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895... at least in Kansas. I imagine the requirements would have had comparable rigour in late 19th century Ontario!
This eighth grade final exam 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 , KS - 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.
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)
[Do we even know what this is??]
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)
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 marks and by syllabication.
Geography (Time, one hour)
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.
Would I be able to pass that five hour exam? Uh, no. I don't think so.
I also note: most of those with "just" grade 8 education had acquired clear, legible and elegant handwriting, using straight pens and ink bottles, no blots!! The majority of kids now can double thumb on their phones at lightening speed: but many can't either read or write "cursive" script. (Or tell the time on a non-digital time piece!!)
Oh yeah. Maybe we pride ourselves on our advanced "education" -- but without having learned a whole lot more than those of our ancestors who enjoyed many fewer opportunities?? Who went to work in their early teens, contributed their wages to the support of their households, worked long years. And who uncomplainingly paid the taxes to support the school systems which benefited us.
Certainly, I never underestimated the intelligence, the general knowledge OR the wisdom of my "elderly" clients who told me that they "just" had grade eight!!.