Getting Smarter … or Not

Mr Sailer seems to concurr, if my casual reading is right, that we are “getting smarter” in this modern age. I, unsurprisingly, disagree.

However, there is some sort of contrary evidence. Out of curiosity, some years ago, I bought on eBay a pair turn of the century (1900) 6th grade textbooks, math and literature/english/grammar. It seems to me more likely that we aren’t getting smarter. Just better at some things and worse at others.

I’ve pulled them back out, for review. The books are Grammar School: Myers and Brooks published in 1902 and 1906. My daughter has just finished the 6th grade. This book, lacks the flashy graphics, but the problem and course material is not completely dissmilar, however the older book is strikingly better at stressing and testing one’s pratical application of the material.

The second book, Elson: Grammar School Reader Book One, published in 1911. These (6th graders, I think) read a lot more poetry than kids do today. Vocabulary is similar by my estimation. Again, no graphics or pictures.

However, the contention that our kids are in any real measureable way so much smarter than those now with all the “advantages” seems, based on their textbooks, a hard one to make.

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