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Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

While Olivia and I were in Portland, one of the things I learned was that my 7-year-old niece Vanessa loves the show “Deal or No Deal”. She even has the home version of it, which she played with my sister, my dad, and Olivia a couple of times. (Olivia didn’t actually play, she just helped sort and distribute the cards that say what value is in what briefcase. For a two-year-old, that’s loads of amusement.) With all due respect to my niece, who is a bright little girl, any game show that can be mastered by a second-grader can’t be that challenging. I confess I came away from that wondering what the fuss is all about.

I’m telling you this because this new game show sounds far more interesting to me.

Fox announced Saturday that it is making a new game show, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? that will air sometime later this year, perhaps as early as the spring.

Adults will compete in a quiz based on questions from elementary school textbooks. Actual elementary school students will be on hand as “experts” for the adults to consult with.

“While most game shows measure how smart you are, this is a show that will measure how dumb you are,” said Peter Liguori, Fox entertainment president.

This might be worth checking out when it airs. I’d advise keeping a reserve of sympathy for the adult contestants, on the grounds that anyone can and will forget some things that they knew once but haven’t thought about or used in years. Gerald Ford was still President when I started fifth grade, for crying out loud. There are things I learned back then that are no longer true, and I’m sure there are factoids of the name/date/place variety that have long since slipped my mind. I say there’s no shame in that.

Having said that, I don’t doubt that Ligouri’s assessment is correct, and that should I ever watch this show I’ll spend a fair amount of time wincing at the sheer ignorance of some of the contestants. I daresay this show’s producers did not dip from the same contestant pool that contains Jeopardy! hopefuls, since where would the fun in that be? I can’t say that this sounds like the sort of show that’s worth watching regularly, but I think I’ll tune in once or twice, to see if it winds up being what I think it will be. It’s just a matter of how dirty I’ll feel afterwards for having done so.

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  1. Bill K says:

    It may not only be the dim bulbs that have trouble with the questions. You’ll see when your daughter reached 5th grade. Text books on history and science are “simplified” to the point of being just plain wrong, similar to the new more rigorous citizen test. The answer stated in the text will be the final determination of what is right. I can remember many evenings trying to explain to my son and daughter what really happened in some past historical event and my wife saying that I was just making it worse and I was only confusing them. Then there are the math books and english text full of arcane and useless topics such as set theory and diagramming sentences.

  2. Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible says:

    Let me ask, will their selected science textbooks be of a “certain” type and so degrade science education as regards Global Climate Change, Evolution and more?