Lifetime is premiering a new “reality” show tonight called Child Genius. Twenty boys and girls ages 8 to 12 compete to answer questions in pursuit of a $100,000 college scholarship.
In a preview, a girl spells the longest word in the English language, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. That’s hardly a sign of intelligence. I memorized the word in fourth grade. (I don’t know my IQ, but my fifth-grade teacher said I was an “overachiever.”)
The British version was called “cruel” for putting heavy pressure on children. After the finale, won by an 11-year-old girl, two boys were shown crying. And the questions favored memorization, rather than intelligence.
John Sumter, a South Carolina third grader, is one of the youngest contestants on the U.S. show. He enjoyed being with kids who get his jokes, said his mother Traci Sumter.
However, “it was very stressful” for the boy, who was eight when the show taped over the summer.
“It was kind of tough to compete against people that I made great allies with and good friendships,” John said.