Kansans Against Common Core sent out a e-newsletter a couple of weeks (Thanks to them for that!) ago that had a speech from a former teacher who collected old text books and that got me thinking. She talked about how school
books have become thicker with less information and how the problems have been dumbed down. I had to see this for myself. Went out to e-Bay and bought an arithmetic book from 1898 named “Graded Lessons in Arithmetic”. It is a book for the sixth grade level. Pictures and example shown below.
What did I learn? Well just from briefly looking through it I figured out it is definitely more advanced than what is being taught now in high school. Most all of the problems are word problems relating to normal occurrences of those days and easily to say they would relate to our own lives. I let my older daughter look through it, who is a sophomore and she replied “I don’t think I could do some of these problems.” I have to say that I find them intimidating. I know if I sat down and took the time to work them out I could do them but this is the math of
a sixth grader. The other obvious difference is the thickness of the book. You can tell just by looking a the book with the pencil on the cover.
And one of my favorite paragraphs from the “INTRODUCTION TO GRADE VI.”
“A thorough mastery of any subject comes only from repetition; hence many review exercises are given so that the pupil may be able to rely upon himself and learn to work absolutely without assistance. Principles are taught, and not rules; and the work is made practical, so that the pupil can be prepared for the affairs of every-day life.“
And since I spent some time on a farm there is one awesome barn question in the book. Remember 6th grade students!
“A man builds a barn 80 ft. long, 45 ft wide, with 30 ft. posts. The roof has a one-third pitch, and the rafters are 28 ft long. Find how many feet of inch boards will be needed for sides and ends, allowing for 2 double doors 14ft. by 12 ft. and 2 single doors 9 ft. by 6ft. Find the feet of lumber needed for floor, covered with 2-inch planks. Find the feet of
roof-boards needed. Find the feet of lumber needed for doors, if 1 1/2 in. boards are used. Find the cost of lumber at $16 per M.”
My question is “Where did we get lost?” I remember times in class when the teacher mentioned the phrase “word problems” you could hear the groan from the class. I bet back then when the teacher said “no word problems” the class groaned. From here on out when ever I hear an individual employed in the education field tell me how well our children are achieving or how great the education is I will call (pardon my language) BS!
I would encourage everyone to go out and purchase a text-book from 1899 or later (I don’t think the progressives had
their hand in education quite yet). It will give you a completely different perspective and get ready to be pissed off. But the way I picked this book up for about $12.00 with shipping. They are fairly reasonable and should be purchased and protected.
Thanks for listening to the rant,