LINK:  Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today

Reason #73 as to why we prefer homeschooling.


Proper nutrition (and hygiene) is as essential for the mind as it is for the body and spirit.

“Human totalities are involved in metabolic exchanges with the world that includes also the air we breathe and exhale, the things we read, the ideas we accept as our own as well as what we see and hear.”  Horst Hutter, “Shaping the Future”

Below is the link.  Section 3, Reading Level is most revealing.

“…I decided to examine if the common accusation that today’s education standards have been dumbed down is really true. To make sure I wasn’t unfairly weighting this survey in favor of the past, I went to one of the Twin Cities metro area’s finest districts, namely, Edina Public Schools”

Source: Intellectual Takeout

12 comments on “LINK:  Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today”

  1. Ha! Saved the (old) reading list to scour the library for read-out-loud material when we are done with Bulfinch. I think “Harald, last of Saxon Kings” will be the first to get. Very promising, that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Except for Mark Twain and the books in his Latin classes all of my son’s required reading was 20th and 21st Century. The worst title I can recall was Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”. I am not Catholic but he attended middle and high school Catholic schools. It’s very sad I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. While home schooling may provide a better education for some children fortunate enough to have parents with the appropriate skills and pedagogical experience, for most home schoolers this approach would lead to an educational disaster. We cannot expect the average parent to have the time and expertise to teach successfully the many disciplines, such as math, physics, chemistry, biology, literature, history, languages etc. Thank you for giving my some food for thought this morning!


    1. You present a common argument, second only perhaps to the inevitable concern over “socialization.” The latter is a result of conflating “socializing” with the process of “socialization,” while the history of homeschooling, specifically in the United States both pre and post “public education,” has rendered the former unfounded, except perhaps for professional educators. I’d also suggest that parents who homeschool their children are, by definition, not average parents, and that the issue of time and expertise is really a question of values.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sorry that I voiced my opinion on the educational scenario in the United States. I have strictly written my comment from a Canadian perspective based on solid evidence and personal experience on the home schooling parents and their children.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No need to be sorry, it’s perfectly understandable. For us it’s good to blow the dust off these things periodically and reaffirm our commitments.

        The National Home Education Research Institute provides some relevant information about the academic performance of homeschooled children, for those who might be interested.

        The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) A 2015 study found Black homeschool students to be scoring 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students (Ray, 2015).

        Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.

        Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.

        Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.

        Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.

        Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. As one who has taught in public schools for over two decades, I can honestly say that two parents can do a better job educating their children than what I mostly see out there. Each year, I would receive students wondering what they were taught their previous years. Their writing and grammar was atrocious, they had little or no critical thinking skills, and they knew almost nothing about how our country came to be. In one year, we changed much of that, teaching these kids how to write well, sharing cause and effects and having them write papers, and much much more. If all a parent did was ensure their children could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and use money, also working basic word problems, could read and write, having them read books of interest, perhaps going with them to the library and books stores, finding exciting history books, also going to museums, zoos, and other places of interests, even the backyard looking under rocks, by the time that kid is in the 8th grade, he or she will have a better education than most high schools graduates. I kid you not. I have seen this en masse.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I remember back in the day when I was still teaching at school (in Germany), trying to find a modern book that I actually thought was good to read with my class of (then) 17-year-olds. Couldn’t find anything that would met even the language standards that I thought were appropriate, never mind the topics. So the dumbing down of the material taught with as well as the content taught can easily be shown by comparing reading lists. And we haven’t even mention the amount of reading that used to be required in comparison to what students get away with now.
    I am sure glad we have the freedom to home school here in the United States, and I surely do not envy my family in Germany for not even being allowed to choose one or the other, home education or state-organized schooling.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve said this before, and on my site go into some ideas of better education, that almost any parent can do a better job than 90% of what we’ve seen out there. Having taught education for over two decades, I’ve had a front row seat to what I couldn’t believe: kids who can’t read moving up a grade to my class, kids who can’t do simple math problems, yet they’re in the 5th, 6th, 7th, even 8th grades (How did they pass?), and many who have absolutely no critical thinking skills: cannot tell the difference between emotion-based arguments and logic. A mother or a father, staying at home, even with low education, if they get their children to accurately do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and can work with money and simple word problems, they will have helped them tremendously (especially if the kids memorize their times tables). If they get their children interested in reading books (i.e. decent comics, childrens’ encyclopedias, classics, and such, then have them write about those subjects, later writing stories, plays, and commercials, they will have done a lot. Take them to museums, zoos, parks, even to the backyard to look under rocks. Such a kid will have garnered, from home, cooking meals and doing other chores, a better education than 90% of high school graduates. Sad, but it’s true. And this should tell parents to be vested in what their kids are learning. *Let me share one more point. I was with a friend in his store when a recent high school graduate walked in. After some time, we discovered the teen had taken business in school. So we asked him some basic questions. You know, in the proceeding hour and a half with us, he gained more from listening to a teacher with additional work experiences and a store owner than he did from that entire year in school. They’re not teaching kids how to think for themselves. We can.

    Liked by 3 people

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