You have a valid point there Jimbo - please see attached for some 1902 English Boarding school questions....
Seems like mostly busy work and wrote memorization of stupid stuff to me..
As time moves on, new things need to be placed into your brain so you can function, either in society or in a job.
Cursive for instance.. Its designed so you can write faster.. But now everybody types, and they have 2nd and 3rd graders taking tests on computers.. So.. Obviously, those kids need to know how to write, so you teach them to print and you teach them to type. Cursive seems to be the most logical thing to toss out the window for typing..
And some old dude is going.. "But I had to learn cursive".. Yeah, but you didn't have to know how to type in 2nd grade either..
Slide rules. How many people still know how to use a slide rule, and how much time was devoted to learning how to use a slide rule.. At this point in time, its useless, no need to teach it anymore.
I also have another theory. You NEED to know X.. you really need to know this.. So they teach you X,
And then they don't stop.. They then teach you Y, which needs X.. Y is cool, but, its not what you REALLY
need to KNOW.. Then they will dabble in Z, which requires both X and Y.. You really don't need Z..
But the end goal is that you know X inside and out..