A popular TV quiz show posed this question in its title: “Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?”
It was a simple idea, as most successful ideas are: An adult plays the game, which offers a cash prize of one million. During the show, a group of 5th-grade students is on stage to rescue the adult if he or she is stumped by a toughie. The questions are drawn from school textbooks. As the winnings mount, of course, the questions get harder. If the adult fails to complete the challenge or decides to quit rather than lose money, he or she has to admit, on TV, “I’m not smarter than a 5th grader.”
While this task may seem like a walk in the park, many contestants have lost the chance to win one million dollars -- or even a fraction thereof -- for failing to answer basic elementary level questions, surprising not only the contestants themselves and viewers but the 5th grader student.
I'm constantly amazed at how many people are definitely not smarter than a fifth grader. Speaking for myself, I'm definitely smarter than a fourth grader, but never having seen anyone actually win the contest, I can't say for sure that I'm smarter than a fifth grader.
A survey by learning firm Pearson has found that only 5 per cent of 2,000 volunteers correctly answered ten questions which tested maths typically taught to junior school pupils which covered fractions, angles, area and percentages. Nearly four in ten – 39 per cent – were unable to answer a simple question about fractions aimed at eight-year-old. Nearly three-quarters–73 per cent – were stumped by a calculation question for 11- and 12-year-old.
The reason adults can embarrass themselves in these quiz shows has less to do with their schooling than the fact that most have not used 5th-grade facts in many years.
Note: I've been reminded I'm not smart.