Tuesday, February 10, 2015

An Exam for Teachers

By Shirley Raye Redmond

Set in New Mexico Territory in 1905, by novel AMANDA’S BEAU was inspired by the true story of a schoolteacher in New Mexico who (along with his pupils) discovered some ancient Anasazi ruins on the outskirts of town. Gil Gladney, the handsome schoolteacher hero in the novel, contacts an old college friend after discovering ancient relics. The possibility of an archeological excavation excites the community of cash-strapped farmers, eager to earn extra money working on the site.

The story even has a small connection to the real Downton Abbey. In my novel, the hero’s best friend Nate tries to convince Gil to give up his school teaching job to pursue archeology. He tells Gil that one day someone will discover something thrilling, like a pharaoh’s wealth-filled tomb and that archeology will capture the public’s imagination. I was alluding to Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon’s discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922. Carnarvon was the real-life lord of Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed. He was bit by a mosquito and died from infection after discovering the treasure, giving rise to creepy tales of the curse of King Tut’s tomb.

The following is an Indiana teacher's exam from 1911. It appeared in Ann Landers’ advice column many years ago. My schoolteacher hero would have had to pass a similar exam to receive his teaching certification. Could you pass this test?

  1. In what state and on what waters are the following: Chicago, Duluth, Cleveland and Buffalo. State an important fact about each city.
  2. Who is building the Panama Canal? Where is it?
  3. What causes the change from day to night? From summer to winter?
  4. Name 5 republics and 3 monarchies.
  5. Write a sentence with the verb in active voice; change to passive voice.
  6. Write a model business letter of not more than 40 words.
  7. What is the length of a rectangular field 80 rods wide that contains 100 acres?
  8. A wagon is 10 feet long, three feet wide and 28 inches deep: how many bushels of wheat will it hold?
  9. Define arteries, veins, capillaries and pulse.
  10. Write a brief biography of Evangeline.

An award-winning writer and frequent conference speaker, Shirley Raye Redmond is the author of two inspirational historical novels, PRUDENCE PURSUED and AMANDA’S BEAU, as well as two dozen children’s books, including LEWIS & CLARK: A PRAIRIE DOG FOR THE PRESIDENT (Random House), which was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection. Shirley Raye holds an M.A. in literature. She has been married to her husband Bill for forty years. They live in New Mexico and are blessed with two grown children, two adorable grandsons, and one spunky Scottish terrier. Touch bases at www.shirleyrayeredmond.com or Facebook and http://www.writechildrensbook.com/blog


  1. I don't think I would do to well with that exam.. 45 years ago I might have done pretty well :)
    Very interesting today!

  2. I'm fond of teaching and history, so I enjoyed reading your post, Shirley. And I definitely did not pass the test!