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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've Been Spending Some Time at the Khan Academy Website

I'm working my way up through the mathematics curricula and find it a great way to exercise my tired old brain. I'm relearning principles long since forgotten but I find it stimulating and the plan is to progress as long as the neurons in the mind keep on firing.

Too many people who are retired from earning their daily bread fail to exercise their mental faculties. So many become vacuous sloths roaming the corridors of society smiling with blank stares on their faces. Their batteries have little voltage left to spark a modicum of creativity or question why the sun and moon always rise from an easterly direction. They have shutdown the left side of their brains, can no longer think for themselves and replaced it with the television, smartphone, GPS navigation, etc. They are evolving into the core of the matrix for which "Neo" (Neo-Luddism) became aware after taking the red pill.

Not an accurate indication of degredation

Our kids today have much different priorities in terms of valuable information, mostly related to how various technologies work and how to use them.

In this regard, this test does not measure anything of value, and as it is a public school test, it makes sense that they would be asking about a bunch of arbitrary facts and mostly trivial concepts(with exceptions).

If it were to have operations of a steam engine, combustion engine, telegraph, etc... J would be more impressed, but alas public school has always been a joke.


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.


Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

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.

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

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"

I'm surprised that kids today

I'm surprised that kids today don't know how to hold a ruler let alone read one...The skill of map reading..(even road maps) will be long gone. The kids today won't have to have any skills .. Their literacy in computers and their knowledge in pop culture is well known. They are told answers instead of having to figure out anything. There are many smart kids but the general population is more illiterate and incapable of abstract thought than ever before it seems. The numbers of walking brain dead is a sad reflection of our society.

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.


Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

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.


It seems to me that one has

It seems to me that one has to learn to take direction before you can give direction. You have to learn enough prescriptive knowledge before you can understand enough to create.

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.

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu

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?:


"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu