Melia Edwards sent an email today that was a set of final exam questions for the 8th grade at Salina, Kansas, 1895. I'd guess it was similar here in that time and/or later. When I think of the knowledge and intelligence I've seen in the older people of the mountains, they had good educations. It was practical knowledge. I can't help but think about a time Tom Pruitt told me a great nephew was visiting who was in high school. He asked the kid a typical arithmetic question as would have been on a test when he was in school. The kid didn't even know what he was talking about. It had something to do with figuring board feet. Tom was amazed that kids in highschool couldn't figure what he had to do before the 7th grade.
I can't say if the way they taught then was better or worse than how teaching is done now. More than likely it is better in some ways and worse in others. Nonetheless, it was interesting to see how intensive the education was. I have an idea very few high school seniors could pass this final exam. That was in the days we wrote our answers. Now it's T or F, ABCD or all of the above. Now we stuff our heads with information. Then they appeared by the nature of the test to value figuring things out, which has just about left our present American culture. But we figure things out in a different way post-electricity. Everything changed with electricity. Everything. Now with computers, everything is changing again. We don't think like we did a hundred years ago. We don't think like we did fifty years ago.
Just 10 years ago the Supreme Court told us we have no more democracy. Last year the Supremes turned our government (of the people) over to corporations. We think very differently from how we thought 10 years ago. The left / right division Reagan initiated 30 years ago has widened with the propaganda genius of Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove until it's wanting to boil into civil war, the fascists vs the anti-fascists who will be given the name terrorists. Communist is dated, doesn't work anymore. Terrorist is fresh and frightening. There is no guessing what's ahead. I'll wait and see. If I waste a lot of time thinking about it, when it happens it won't be anything like what I've worried over. I've finally learned all that government stuff is as far beyond my control as a lunar module on the moon. The American importance of the individual and individual rights is over.