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Friday, March 2, 2007

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? ('Cause I'm Not Apparently)

This is slightly off topic, but it's about education which is IMOP the most important input to a productive society.

I've started watching that new Fox TV gameshow, "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" with Jeff Foxworthy as host. For the uninitiated, it's basically a 'who wants to be a millionaire' style question/answer show. The contestent has to answer questions that build their bank and they have a chance of winning $1 million. The catch is that all the questions are at or below the 5th grade level (in subjects like History, Science, Math, Animal Science, Animal Science???).

Also, the contestent may use a handful of lifelines - cheat by copying off one of the actual 5th graders playing right alongside him or her. In the end, after all lifelines have been exhausted, if they don't know the question, they can "drop out" and proclaim, "I am not smarter than a 5th grader!"

Well I gotta tell you folks, I apparently am not either. I missed quite a few questions as I was playing along with the series premiere. And last night, there were questions like, "What constellation is the big dipper in?" "What % of the Earth is covered in water? 70, 80, or 90" (I always heard 75%, so I was screwed from the get go), "How many teaspoons are in 5 tablespoons?" (I don't cook).

So, I got really depressed, realizing that my Bachelors and Masters degrees were all for naught. I contemplated becoming a hermit, or maybe joining my stupid kin, but then I realized something... I wasn't the only one not getting this stuff. These contestents are lawyers, real estate brokers, etc - smart people. Even my coworkers who all have advanced degrees were saying how difficult the questions were....

So, we are left with 2 possible reasons for why these perfectly smart people are not getting these questions:

1. These really aren't 5th grade or lesser questions
2. Our education system teaches mindless trivia that no one remembers because most everyone in the adult world doesn't use/need the information in real life. In other words, we are teaching our children the wrong things

I really hope the answer is number one, but I have a feeling it's number 2.