A friend sent me a link to an article titled "Return of the One Room Schoolhouse". I found it very interesting, particularly because it gave examples of eighth grade final examinations from 1895. I doubt most of our modern schoolchildren could pass them - in fact, I think most of us adults would have a hard time with them too!
Here, for example, is the Geography exam.
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 N.A.
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.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give 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 inclination of the earth.
All that in one hour? I'd be very hard pressed to answer that many questions, concisely enough, in that time limit.
Click over to the article to look at the examinations for English, arithmetic and other subjects. They're interesting and thought-provoking. Why are modern children taught so much less factually, and so much more about irrelevant, touchy-feely subjects that will do nothing to help them as adults?