FURTHERMORE TAKES A TEST
Brothers All: It seems to me that we aren't as smart as we once were--in a
common sense, common knowledge sort of way. See what you think...
Furthermore has left town.
Brother Furthermore, my Masonic pet raven, is out of town for a few days.
Heís attending a convention of Elvis impersonators in Memphis. It was either
that or the Grand Lodge of Virginia. He picked Memphis. Iím excited for
him. And he really looks great in his spangled jump suit (although I must
confess that his singing leaves something to be desired). Please donít
mention that last part if you see him. His feelings are easily hurt and he
is my Brother, after all.
In truth, Iím a little put out by the whole Elvis
thing. It seems Iím the only person in the world who canít remember exactly
where he was and what he was doing (and to whom) the moment Elvis died or
went home or whatever. It can be very disconcerting.
(If youíre coming in
late, the whole disgusting chronicle of Furthermore, the Masonic Raven, is
at the web address [BACK TO THE HOME PAGE] below!)
Anyway, after the Elvis convention, Furthermore is flying to somewhere else
to attend the annual meeting of the SPPDDM (the Society for the
Preservation, Production and Drinking of the Dry Martini). In fact, heís
conducting a seminar on the selection and use of olives. I understand some
of his video is quite controversial.
But I digress. The point being that Furthermore is out of town and Iím left
here alone to entertain you. So I thought Iíd get serious for moment, which
is always hard to do when that birdís around, you know?
Actually, I have a test for you. Hereís the background. For many years,
eighth grade students in Omaha, Nebraska, were required to pass a test of
general knowledge before moving on to high school. I know this because, as
an eighth grader in Omaha in about 1958 or so I had to take a version of it,
myself. And look how I turned out. Other cities may have had something
similar. I donít know. I wasnít in other cities.
Here are some of the questions that an eighth grader had to answer in 1935
(some years before I had to take it) in Omaha to be eligible to move on to
Be honest. Grade yourself. By the way, these are only a few
questions. The test was much, much longer. And while youíre reading these,
you should not make comparisons to the residents of any of the U.S. states,
no matter how dimwitted they may seem. Sorry. That was a cheap shot.
1. Name three departments of the U.S. government. What constitutes each?
2. To whom is the right of suffrage granted. What are the qualifications?
Who is excluded?
3. Write sentences containing nouns and show the difference case relations.
4. Explain the difference between the use of the preposition and the
5. What is a modifier? Name three kinds and illustrate.
6. Name three countries in Europe, the boundaries of which are determined
7. Draw an outline map of this state, locating the principal cities, rivers
8. Name the states noted respectively for the following: coal, salt,
cotton, fruits, vegetables, sugar, rice, tobacco, copper and wheat.
9. The battle of Manila began at 5:41 Sunday morning, May 1. Manila is in
longitude 123í 20Ē east. Washington is 77í west. What was the date and hour
in Washington when the battle began?
10. If a mixture is made of nine pounds of candy worth 12 cents a pound,
seven pounds at 16 cents a pound and 4 pounds at 20 cents a pound, what will
one pound of the mixture be worth?
11. How was the invention of the cotton gin associated with the slavery
12. Why did England establish colonies in America? France? Spain?
13. What are the voluntary muscles? The involuntary muscles? Give examples.
Well, you get the idea. This is a small part of a real test of the
knowledge of eighth grade students in 1935 in one Midwestern city. No joke.
How did you do?
Now, Iím not suggesting that we are dumbing down education, of course. I
will admit, however, that it would be silly to give this test to junior high
or high school students today. Nuts. Most of their parentsóregistered
voters--couldnít even pass it, so why blame the kids?
Furthermore will be back next week with tales of Elvis and gin, probably, so
until thenóas Red Green always says, keep your stick on the ice.