The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Mystery of Faculty Priorities

New scientific study of the trend towards more faculty who view their primary job as research.
Some interesting attempts at conclusions from the research. From Inside Higher Ed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lost in the Meritocracy

There's a new book out by writer Walter Kirn, Lost in the Meritocracy: the undereducation of an overachiever, based on this searing article about his experience.

(Hat tip to John Enright.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

An 8th Grade Education in 1895

Emails with a test from 1895 Salina, KS 8th grade have been floating around the Internet for some years, as an example of the decline in education. Here's a bit about these emails, and the US History questions from the Kansas test:

"What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...

 "Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895? 

"This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in  Salina ,  Kansas ,  USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in  Salina , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.   

"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, 1865."

The urban legends' site,, comments about it here with more details. Snopes argues that the email poses a misleading question to try to show that education has declined - "could you (the reader) pass this test." Snopes argues instead that those of us long out of school would not remember enough to answer all the test's questions correctly.

What Snopes fails to recognize is the implication that this is the level and type of knowledge which 8th graders were expected to know.  According to the results of a test commissioned recently by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, college seniors at top schools know very little of US history. I highly suspect most current 8th graders are not expected to know most of this information.