Santa Fe Education

We have visited Santa Fe several times over the years.

You’d think we would have taken the city’s measure by now. But it is a city that won’t stand still long enough for you to stretch out a tape.

At one time or another Santa Fe has been a trading post, a religious center, an administrative hub, an arts colony and a western cow town. Now, it is a near-perfect place to have a midlife crisis.

In Santa Fe you can create a new life for yourself. You can get rid of your wife… grow a pony tail… put on some turquoise ornaments… get a pickup truck… take an interest in art… try transcendental meditation… live in a brown house… learn about vigas and chili peppers… drink Dos Equis beer… buy some Georgia O’Keefe pictures to decorate… build piñon fires in the corner fireplace… get a season pass to the opera… wear blue jeans every day… and find a new girlfriend who wears hiking boots and doesn’t paint her fingernails.

"Santa Fe is a very pretty town," Elizabeth opined. "The houses on the hillsides are nearly invisible. There must be strict building codes. All you see is the reflection of the sun off the windows. Everything else is in adobe color — the color of the ground. The style is very attractive. If people put up the usual houses… you know, with vinyl siding and gabled roofs, they would stick up all over the place. The city would be hideous. Instead, it is attractive, sophisticated… and very up-market. The other thing that’s nice about it is that it is small. You can get anywhere you want in about 10 minutes."

Santa Fe is a rich town. It is a place where people come to spend money. Where and how they make it… we don’t know.

Our reason for coming to Santa Fe was so that Jules could visit St. John’s College, which has one campus here and another in Annapolis, Maryland. St. John’s is a curious school that makes no pretense of preparing students for careers. Nor does it seem particularly interested in the typical admissions process. There are only 500 students at the Santa Fe installation. There are no research labs. There are no big-name professors. Nor is there a football team; the only sport at which St. John’s competes is croquet.

"We do not really teach anything here at St. John’s," our guide explained. "We merely read and discuss the great ideas that have shaped our Western civilization. We begin with the Bible and pre-Socratic philosophers… and work our way forward, chronologically, in math, music, science and literature, as well as philosophy and religion, until we are discussing Max Planck and Ludwig Wittgenstein and other more modern thinkers."

This appealed to Elizabeth. She saw a chance to turn over the job of improving Jules to someone else.

But Jules was not sure.

If humans were simpler, more rational animals, his father recalled, politics could be studied as though it were a science… the Federal Reserve really could guide the economy… and he could tell Jules what he really thought about St. John’s College. But if he spoke too favorably about it, Jules might decide to go somewhere else — merely to assert his independence. The old man kept quiet.

"Would you like to help defeat George Bush?" asked several DNC activists on the town square in Santa Fe.

"Yes," we replied. But before their faces had completed a smile, we added: "And that humbug Kerry, too."

"The average American college student… " we wrote two days ago, "is about as well educated as a person with an eighth grade education 100 years ago."

“Not so!” says a reader. "Here is the eighth-grade graduation test given in Salina, Kansas, in April 13, 1895. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, Kansas and reprinted by the Salina Journal”:

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.

5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.

7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cents per bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?

10.Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e’. Name two exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10.Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

4. Describe the mountains of N.A.

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?

9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

Bill Bonner [send him mail] is the author, with Addison Wiggin, of Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of The 21st Century.