Fifth-grade smarts

Are You Smarter than Your Fifth Grader? A new Fox show will see if adults can answer questions taken from fifth-grade textbooks.

Essential Blog pans the idea.

The amount of information and discoveries made in the past fifty years has been astronomical when compared with what our parents grew up with, and even with current fifth graders, more and more is being introduced by the second, so it can only be expected that they would have to know more at a younger age to have even the same level of academic proficiency (when compared with the modern world) as their parents did/do.

The Quick and the Ed calls it a sweet idea.

I don’t think today’s fifth graders know that much more than the fifth graders of yesteryear. Do they know the three principal products of every province in Canada and every country in Latin America? I doubt it. OK, we knew virtually no science in fifth grade, except for the duck-billed platypus. But science remains a hit-or-miss affair in many elementary schools.

Update: Photon Courier takes on the “temporal bigotry” which assumes we know more than previous generations. Stuart Buck’s grandfather knew enough to run a farm, repair machinery, deliver a neighbor’s child and manage a butcher shop. Scientists today know more than scientists of yesteryear. But most fifth graders — and adults — don’t understand the scientific advances of the last 25 years.

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Comments

  1. “The amount of information and discoveries made in the past fifty years has been astronomical when compared with what our parents grew up with, and even with current fifth graders, more and more is being introduced by the second…”

    I think this line of thinking is pretty silly. See my post about Temporal Bigotry.

  2. I like this idea. While there have been many advances in knowledge, parents have the advantage of years of experience and knowledge gathering that a fifth grader does not have.

    What may be more interesting is asking current college students the same questions.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    I challenged somebody who claimed to be a teacher about the abysmal level of historical literacy.
    She said there is so much more than when we were kids (I figure history goes back 5000 years and since I was a kid is just under one percent of that time) that there isn’t room for all the stuff we used to know.
    Crap.

    Either they think citizens who don’t know history are easier to manipulate, or they’re too lazy to teach it. But having more history on account of time going by is not a reason.

  4. Richard: When I was a kid (40-some years ago), the history they taught in school was mainly English and American history, starting in 1066 at the earliest (or with Magna Carta, Columbus, or the Mayflower), and most years they ran out of time before reaching WWII. That’s not much compared to the rest of the world or the first 4,000 years of recorded history, which political correctness requires trying to teach nowadays before they cover our own heritage.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    markm.

    Your point would have more point if they knew anything at all, regardless of the area or culture.
    When I was in school, roughly the same structure–same building–from grade 7 to grade 11, we had state history one year, American history the next year, world history the next (Anybody remember “Story of Nations”?), and returned to American history and world history in grades ten and eleven.
    Grade twelve allowed for some focus in history, but everybody got the same for five years.

    It is said that there are US history books which give far more space to Marilyn Monroe than to George Washington.