It is not surprising that a party which thinks so highly of traditional (i.e. nineteenth-century) values should want to introduce a Victorian flavour into our educational system, if not to the extent of bringing back the cane, or learning by rote, or dunces' caps for the low achievers, of course (though no doubt some party members would enthusiastically support the re-introduction of these).
The Tories have a plan to highlight allegedly failing standards in education by setting up an online library of past examination papers going back to Victorian times. It is not clear how this will raise standards, but at least it will show today's schoolchildren just how lucky they are not to have been born a hundred and fifty years ago.
Here are some sample questions to give an idea of the sort of things their forebears were expected to know:
If six children working nine hours a day can sweep fifty chimneys in a week, how long will it take ten children to sweep seventy chimneys of the same size? (You may not use your abacus.)
Should children who walk more than twelve miles to school be excused drill? If so, what cleaning tasks should be given them instead?
"Naphtha the Jebusite was a more godly man than Rehoboam the King of Judah." Discuss, illustrating your comments with not less that THREE passages from the Book of Joshua.
Où sont les neiges d'antan?
(a) Who was in whose what, and how many miles awhat?
(b) Cap'n, art thou sleeping there below?
Write 100 words on FOUR of the following: Basutoland, Mesopotamia, Cochin-China, Bohemia, Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Dahomey, Wallachia.
Explain in 200 words the social benefits of ONE of the following: workhouses, transportation to the colonies, the death penalty, press gangs
Give your recipe for TWO of the following: Boiled Griskin of Pork, Kedgeree, Jugged Hare, Gruel, Roast Haunch of Venison, Barley Soup