Friday, March 16, 2007

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?

The Fox Network is betting you're not, given its new show, "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"

Let's warm up with an easy one: Can you name the five Great Lakes? Do you know which is bigger: 3/5 or 5/8? Which planet is closest to the sun? And, most importantly, who invented peanut butter? (Better know who invented jelly, too, just in case.) These and other probing questions are asked every Thursday night at 8 p.m. to either boost our confidence in today's youth or confirm what we already know: Adults should never compete with cute kids on TV.

As a self-confessed trivia junkie, I get the whole fascination with quiz shows. But I am puzzled to understand why any adult would boast they are, in fact, smarter than an elementary student. (That's how it's supposed to work, right?) This same sort of educational oneupsmanship has occurred for years each fall when the WASL scores are published in the paper alongside actual test questions.

I guess if there is any good to come of this show, it's that it may re-instill people's faith in kids and public education (but not, necessarily, in TV executives). Schools could use it to engage community members by hosting a local version in the cafeteria or gym, using it as an opportunity to show off programs and school talent.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently compiled its own online quiz based on a set of questions fielded from a local fifth-grade teacher. Truth be told, I clocked in with 12/20 correct answers. No summer school for me, but I definitely need to pay closer attention in math...