April 29, 2008

Treasures from All Over

There's a television show in the UK called "Are You Smarter than an 5th Grader" or something like that -- I've never watched it because I have a sister in the sixth grade who assures me that the answer to that is an unequivocal "No." I'm cheered by the fact that she's still not smarter than eighth graders in 1895. Via the mental_floss blog, we're privileged to see the 1895 final exam presented to 8th-graders in Salina, Kansas... and boy howdy are those questions hard. FIVE HOURS were allowed for the final test. Five.

Remember that many young adults decided to teach school after graduating from the 8th grade in those days -- and honestly, if they know how to respond to such questions as:

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 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

... then they had the chops to at least teach fifth graders... check out the whole exam here.

Imagine treasure-hunting with your granddad -- looking for old cannon balls on a site of a battlefield -- and actually finding treasure. Nine year old Alex found 4,600 silver coins dating from the 13th century -- then archaeologists uncovered almost three thousand more. Hands down, best day out with Granddad, EVER.

Via the Guardian blog -- Shakespeare is being revised -- again -- into "yoofspeak." "Dere was somefing minging in de state of Denmark." Okay, so it's accessible to some -- readable, even, if you're in the know, but the beauty and power of the original language is what makes Shakespeare, isn't it? This isn't an issue for some, because the language tripped them up... Once again, people use the argument that if the Bard were writing now, he'd be writing in "the vernacular" as it were -- but whose? I dunno. I find this a bit patronizing. We're assuming that people who don't choose to participate in the dominate culture only don't because they can't? Hm.

"Smart, funny and cheery, Meyer does not seem noticeably undead in person." Not "noticeably." Well, that's a relief, anyway.

Time Magazine is trying to figure out just what the heck is up with Stephanie Meyers -- how did this 34-year-old observant stay-at-home Mormon mother and housewife turn into a woman being hailed as the next JK Rowling? Seriously, HOW did this happen?! Hat tip to Original Content for the link.


May looks to be a month stuffed with all kinds of fun, games, blog blasts, contests, fluffy bunnies and chickies and ...vampires. Don't forget it's also National Independent Bookseller Month -- if you haven't dropped off the name of your favorite Indie to the ladies at Shrinking Violets, DO SO NOW!

5 comments:

C.K. said...

"We're assuming that people who don't choose to participate in the dominate culture only don't because they can't? Hm."

Good point.

I'm really curious about that new Stephenie Meyer novel, The Host. Will definitely have to pick it up at some point.

liquidambar said...

I liked that quote that c.k. picked up on, too.

And I hope that I, too, am not "noticeably undead." I think that will be my minimum standard for letting myself go out of the house in the morning.

Mary Witzl said...

I've seen a test for teachers from the thirties (when my mother and her sister took it), and I was shocked and stunned. The math alone would have thinned me out. I couldn't answer that wagon box question if my life depended on it. Both my parents had me whipped at mental math too.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I really shouldn't have passed 8th grade math. (In fact, I opted to retake it the next year, since it was Algebra and I was abysmal.) I do think of Laura Ingalls (Wilder) teaching school at age 15. Yikes! Yes, those eighth graders in 1895 definitely had more chops than I.

Re: "Yoofspeak," I think it's fine to redo the Bard's words as long as it is indeed satire. I once read some of Shakespeare's sonnets written in the vernacular by a friend of my mom's, and I just howled with laughter. "Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?" ended up being something along the lines of, "Let's get busy now because one day you'll be old and dead, and that'll be too bad."

DaviMack said...

Keep this in context, here: our ancestors were people who actually needed to use these kinds of math skills, and for whom the idea of a bushel wasn't a foreign concept. Also, it's not like they had as thorough of an understanding of the sciences, nor of many of the other subjects we study in school today.

To put Descartes in context, for example: he's regarded as this man of great science & things, while most of his science knowledge would be bested by an 8th grader of today.

So there.