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Newly Discovered Eighth Grade Exam From 1912 Shows How Dumbed Down America Has Become

Michael Snyder | Activist Post

Have you ever seen the movie Idiocracy? It is a movie about an “average American” that wakes up 500 years in the future only to discover that he is the most intelligent person by far in the “dumbed down” society that is surrounding him.

Unfortunately, that film is a very accurate metaphor for what has happened to American society today. We have become so “dumbed down” that we don’t even realize what has happened to us. But once in a while something comes along that reminds us of how far we have fallen.

In Kentucky, an eighth grade exam from 1912 was recently donated to the Bullitt County History Museum. When I read this exam over, I was shocked at how difficult it was. Could most eighth grade students pass such an exam today? Of course not. In fact, I don’t even think that I could pass it. Sadly, this is even more evidence of “the deliberate dumbing down of America” that former Department of Education official Charlotte Iserbyt is constantly warning us about.

read more: http://www.activistpost.com/2013/08/newly-discovered-eighth-...

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I'm surprised they ask

I'm surprised they ask students to identify a country called Turkey on this map because Turkey wasn't a country yet in 1912.

No, not surprising at all...

The Ottoman Empire (Ottoman Turkish: دولت عليه عثمانیه Devlet-i ʿAliyye-yi ʿOsmâniyye;[6] Modern Turkish: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu), sometimes referred to as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a contiguous transcontinental empire founded by Turkish tribes under Osman Bey in north-western Anatolia in 1299.[7]


True, it wasn't called the Republic of Turkey until 1922, but it was commonly called 'Turkey' for long previous to that.


Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

Much of this test is

Much of this test is memorization. It is not all that unlike tests I took in grade school. It's not all that difficult when the stuff is fresh in your mind. Because of that, I would do better on it back when I was 14 than I would now.

The problem isn't that a kid couldn't pass this test today, they pass tests that require the same degree of memorization, they just have to memorize different things.

I agree

If the extent of my kid's history education was reproducing textbook answers to questions like "Describe the Battle of Quebec", I would be very upset.

I concur with your observation, to which I would add...

the battle of Quebec happened a long time ago and didn't matter. And important battles like world war 1, world war 2, and the Battle on the Bulge isn't even mentioned. I mean, 1912 was only a year ago and there's no mention of Steve Jobs or Kim Kardashian either.

You are a very smart person for the thing you said.

Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

If the question was to

If the question was to describe the battle's effect on the future shape of the United States, that would be one thing. I don't see what value there is to have kids memorize and describe the battle in general.

There was 1 that was floating

There was 1 that was floating around years ago that turned out to be a hoax. How do you check on this stuff, snopes? Has this been checked out? I find it hard to believe, sorry.

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good things is my religion. Thomas Paine, Godfather of the American Revolution

I'm actually glad that we

I'm actually glad that we don't teach history this way anymore. Most of those questions are just rote memorization, no analysis or synthesis.

yeah kids are really smart

yeah kids are really smart nowadays lol

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good things is my religion. Thomas Paine, Godfather of the American Revolution

They wouldn't be any

They wouldn't be any "smarter" if they could regurgitate the answer to "Describe the Battle of Quebec"

Four Centuries of American Education Clip

If only pertaining to reading, I felt the same way when I saw a copy of the New England Primer, which our Founders likely learned from.

FYI, I like the typeset from the era, where some "s's" look like "f's." For those who don't, David Barton also offers an edition in modern type:
New England Primer

This was really interesting, too. In fact, I think the test above might even be mentioned. Those questions rang a bell.
Four Centuries of American Education

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

Forward lol


Marching Music lol


That was awful - you are a terrible friend.


Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

My 4 children are in "grade school" in Beijing

They get algebra problems in the 2nd and 3rd grade
and in the 7th grade they have complex problem in
plane geometry that most Amerikans would never see
unless they took an advanced math class in college.

Dumbing down is hardly an adequate term for the decimation
of education in Amerika.

I suggest you find George Carlin's take on Education--

Your owners (those who own you) dont want people
who are capable of critical thinking. They want
obedient workers.

Thanks and very interesting

They are talented in school. Yet are they good at independent thought? The Chinese at my university were pretty much all followers from my experiences.


Yeah you keep telling

Yeah you keep telling yourself that and when you go to see one of your classmates one day and call him Doctor..........and probably bitch about how much he's charging you you'll know you were wrong

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good things is my religion. Thomas Paine, Godfather of the American Revolution

That's a different issue.

I propose though that if you are smart (not dumb) you won't be a follower for long.

Following the best is a smart move, and the highest complement. Maybe the best leaders started out as good followers.

Just saying such observations can't be turned into laurels to rest on to say all is well, no problem. I think it's very possible that someday the tables may be turned and US students may be going to China to learn in Chinese. Let's see if they don't become followers then.

Judging from past elections I

Judging from past elections I would think Americans are not scoring well in independent thought either.

WOW I think most Western Psychology

Would say that 8 year old children shouldnt be capable of algebra-- concrete vs. formal operations. I guess they say you can get them to do algebraic reasoning with tiles though. perhaps this relates to the abacus as well?

I would suggest there is a lot of learning for exams, i.e. wrote learning by cases for most of these children. I scored pretty well as a kid and didnt get algebra until maybe 12. A friend of mine would say in 5th grade, "I know algebra, x + y =5". I didnt really get the interchangebaility of geometry and algebra until college; I tended to compartmentalize my reasoning about y=mx+b from solving algebraic equations (it describes a line-- but I dont think my friend new that in 5th grade).

Your comment highlights the unsicientific nature of psychology..

... which is devoid of axioms compared to say, physics. And which is why they would it would be way, way off the top of the list a s a source to consult about such things.

Psuchologists in the main do not conceive of raising intelligence, whether one likes or dislikes IQ tests.

You have to know that very

You have to know that very few people at that time made it to the eighth grade.

No wonder why

with tests like that! lol

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere".

It's hard not to be a menace to society when half the population is happy on their knees. - unknown

It's all arithmetic and fact regurgitation

That stuff is less important these days in the age of smart phone calculators and wikipedia. I am not saying those things aren't important, but there is less incentive to memorize all that stuff when you can just look it up with a click. I would be much more interested in comparing critical thinking skills then and now. I would also be interested in comparing reading comprehension and writing skills then and now. There is no doubt that writing skill has deteriorated, as you can tell by reading writings from the Founders' age. There is no doubt that people read less these days. On the other hand, 100 years ago, no one could write a computer program. So may be it's all just good clean fun as the human race evolves.

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

At least it was brain

At least it was brain exercise...memory has to be developed too. I don't believe it is part of any curriculum today....but so what nobody fails or is left behind even if they had to take a test.

Arithmetic is a form of computer code

I would bet its a good predictor of coding ability. Plus like Qualitative reasoning, quantitative reasoning is not all innate. It has to be learned in conjunction with algebra and arithmetic. Our capacity to intuit geometry is actually kind of limited and needs to be shaped by logic. There are many examples of the ancients exploiting simple geometric calculations to trick the wealthy (e.g. perimeter vs. Area).

good points

I agree that quantitative reasoning is not all innate. However, I would also argue that a large portion of arithmetic (e.g. multiplication tables) is memorized. Thus, the person is not really performing an algorithm in their head, but rather performing a look-up operation. I would not be surprised if most of geometry is learned.

Did yo know that even some colors are learned?:


“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

You might want to ask the

You might want to ask the Chinese that question. They can calculate faster on an abacus than our kids can operate a calculator.

Update on email I sent Bullitt Museum

I admit, I kinda tore into them. Here's part of what I sent:

I was reading the 1912 8th Grade Examination, and then looked at the answers. I'm afraid your answer for the first essay under Civil Government is completely wrong. Children in 1912 going into the 1940s would never describe the United States as a 'democracy'. That is a very new idea spread by those wishing to destroy America. It is very irresponsible of you to propogate such falsehoods and you have to go no further than our own Constitution Article 4 Section 4 to get the TRUE answer:
"The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union, a republican form of government..."
But if that isn't good enough for you, have a look at the 1928 Training Manual 2000-25 issued by the War Department.
(I then included exerpts from the link where it defines democracy and republic and asked them to correct their mistake)
This is the reply I received:

"Thank you for your comments."

That's it. Even at museums they change history to fit the new dystopia. Shameful.

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
James Madison

Here is an alternate take


just like school today, most of the info is good to know but useless and a waste of time depending on future occupation.

"I don't want a nation of thinkers. I want a nation of workers."
John D. Rockefeller (Founded the National Education Association)

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