Did anyone else watch Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? last night? I could say pure inertia made me watch it because it was on after American Idol (my guilty pleasure), but I’d be lying. My curiosity for a game show that sounds so simple – yet isn’t – forced me to watch. I generally rate my appreciation for game shows based on if I think I could do well on the show. Deal or No Deal? I could easily do that show. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? I could do that, too, as long as Meredith let me ask her if she drinks around her kids. Jeopardy? OK, I’m not as good at that show, but I do feel proud when I can finish out an entire category.
My first reaction was one of smug superiority: with the questions they gave, I could clean up in this game. The first contestant couldn’t answer a single question without help! I found myself chanting the answers at the screen while he floundered for each question. The area of a triangle: 1/2 base times height…1/2 base times height…1/2 base times height! The second contestant was doing a little better, but still took a lot of time trying to find the right answers. The ship the pilgrims sailed on: the Mayflower! How hard is that?
OK, so the questions were easy for me. Yes, I’m a nerd who clearly paid attention in school, and has a ridiculous memory for useless information. And I’m not afraid to say I know the answers, which is probably why no one liked me in school. However, it was only the first episode, so I’m sure they will get to (many) questions I don’t know.
But here’s what I don’t get: these questions are supposed to match what the average fifth grader knows. I don’t know what freaky, gifted advanced-placement kids they hired for this show, but I doubt that the average fifth grader can tell you who was the first president to be impeached. (Andrew Johnson, by the way.) And the question about the area of a triangle seemed above an elementary school level. Are fifth graders really learning Geometry now? We didn’t cover that in school until eighth grade, and that was still ahead of many because I was in the accelerated math program.
I will watch the show again tonight. Partially because it once again follows Idol, and partially to see if the questions get any harder. I simply can’t believe that those questions are common knowledge for a fifth grade student. I also wonder what the qualifications are to be on the show? Do you think they let elementary school teachers play?