I saw this interesting look at what 8th graders were expected to know in 1895. I just wonder at what the acceptable answer was for this question:
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
Rampant horse and buggy use?
Also, look at this question:
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez [sic], Aspinwall and Orinoco.
Forget 8th graders, today zero percent of college graduates could answer this. I cannot answer it either - I'd never heard of Hecla (and, even after trying to look it up, I'm not sure which Hecla they are referring to, the small town on the South Dakota/North Dakota border, the small town in Montana now designated a ghost town, or the uninhabited island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.)
Thank goodness we live in an age where not knowing any, what are they called.... oh yeah, facts, is considered a sign of progress.
Evidently, Hecla is Hekla, which would make it an Icelandic volcano. OK, that makes it a little more doable.