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By Samuel Stoddard

August 2000

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Monday, August 28, 2000

I was hoping to elicit a bit more discussion about the exam before posting this link, which many of you wrote in about. Ah, well. On the Urban Legends Reference Pages site, at, the 1895 exam given in the previous journal entry is discussed. While I do not contend with very much stated on the page, I don't adopt its generally dismissive stance. While it's true that the exam may not in itself be solid evidence for the deterioration of the American school system, it is still quite useful for a number of things, not the least of which is a reminder about subject areas in which students are grossly negligent. It's also interesting from a purely historical perspective; indeed, the obsolete questions in the exam are the most interesting. The Urban Legends write-up of the 1895 exam explores the historical angle much further, because it is that that gives the exam context for addressing pretty much any other question about the exam and what it means.

Thursday, August 24, 2000

As most of you who care probably already found out, the RinkWorks Convention was a flying success, and I fully intend to try to hold future conventions regularly, in a different part of the United States every time. It makes it easier for interested people with limited transportation means to make it at some point, plus gives my wife and I the opportunity to see the country. Our visit to D.C. did feel rather rushed -- there's only so much you can see in a few hours, Saturday being consumed by function hall activities, so Leen and I just might arrive a couple days early or leave a couple days late in the future.

In the past couple days, many of you probably noticed RinkWorks has been a bit unstable lately. The sporadic downtime was due to complications moving the site to a faster server. The move is, as of last night, complete, and everything should work beautifully again and possibly marginally speedier, too. If you tried to send me email, and it bounced, please try again. If you notice anything still broken, please let me know, and I'll fix it as soon as I can.

Moving along. The following is one of those "floating around the Internet" things. It's an eighth grade final exam that was given in 1895 in Salina, Kansas. The exam was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society and Library, located in Salina. I don't know if this exam was representative of exams given in eighth grade in 1895, but I would not be surprised. Could you have passed eighth grade a hundred and five years ago? I would be delighted to receive email with the thoughts that spring to your minds while reading this.

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 do, lie, lay, and run.
  5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
  6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
  7. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

  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 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
  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 cost of 6720 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 inch?
  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 around 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, and 1865?

Orthography (Time, one hour)

  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'.
  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, super.
  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 Fermandez, 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.

Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Three days to go. This Friday, Darleen and I will be waking bright and early to drive down to the Washington DC area, a scant nine hour drive, and staying through the weekend to host the RinkWorks Convention 2000, an event I'm hoping will work out and therefore make it worthwhile to do annually and hosting it in a different part of the country every time. If it works out, the next two RinkWorks Conventions will be held in New Hampshire and California, although I'm not sure yet which will be which. It'll be a small gathering but probably a fun one. Reports and pictures and so forth will be available online sometime after our return.

To travel down, we have two main options. One is to take I-495 to I-90, aka the Massachusetts Turnpike, eventually to I-84, then to I-78, then to I-81, and then slip down to I-66. That's the longer way, but shorter on time. It is also likely to get us there alive. The other way is simply to take I-95 the whole way. I-95 is a remarkable road, travelling from somewhere in the middle of Maine down to Miami, Florida. I-95 would be shorter distance-wise; the problem is that it goes right through the hearts of Boston, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC itself before taking us to the southerly suburb of DC that we're headed for. Not only would we inevitably collide with multiple vehicles on the way down, get caught in constant traffic, but probably our cars and health would be stolen from underneath us so that, by the time we arrived to our destination, we could change our room reservation at the hotel from a regular room to a closet, as that would be all we'd need for what would remain of our mortal coils.

This will probably be the last journal entry from me until we return on Monday. I leave you with a letter I should have printed a long time ago -- it concerns the not so recent Reader Poll question, is sarcasm an invention or a discovery?

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