We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A lot of kids were no longer in school by eighth grade in 1922.
As IQ's and literacy rose throughout the century, I remain suspicious of all claims that students were smarter then. The anecdotes all say they were, the hard data says they weren't. I prefer the latter. I went to a mill-city elementary school starting in the late 50's and had plenty of teachers who would have trained in the 20's and 30's at Normal Schools. My mother had a couple of the same ones, in fact. Looking back, they were mostly not very good and not very bright. The teachers.
That said, mental arithmetic was still a thing when I was in 4th-6th grade, though mostly long strings of "6...times 9...plus 6...divided by 5..." etc. I found it easy, and some students still would find that a more natural method, though they don't have the opportunity, I am betting.
Assistant Village Idiot
Years of School Completed in 1940: age 25-34 (born 1906-1915)
1-3 years college 7.3%
4+ years college 6%
I went to a mill-city elementary school starting in the late 50's and had plenty of teachers who would have trained in the 20's and 30's at Normal Schools.
I was in school several years before you. I didn't have that experience. Of my elementary school teachers, 3 were first or second year teachers. One of my teachers was born in 1911, so she would have been in that age cohort that taught you, but she was in her first year of teaching. The rest of the teachers were of my parents' generation.
Regarding better/worse students and changing educational goals, I recall in the early 1960s our principal advising an 16 year old 8th grade graduate that he would be best off directly entering the work world. (Even too dumb for Technical school, apparently.) Which he did, and had a decent life. By contrast, I was assigned to teach 9th grade Algebra to a group that in my childhood would have been put into General Math. In my opinion, they would have been better off with General Math than with Algebra.
I see the same point frequently made about how ignorant the average college student of today is compared to days of yore. Of course college kids of the past were the most intelligent few percent of high school students, today there's a college for anybody with a pulse. And I'm not entirely sure a pulse is a prerequisite for some of them.