The sad truth is that, no, most of us are no match for the average fifth grader. And for the above-average fifth grader? Forget about it. But before you discard your self-respect, let’s define what exactly they mean by “smart.” Does smart mean being able to name the biggest species of bear? (Polar.) Does it mean knowing your pronouns from your compound words? YES. We’ve all mostly forgotten that stuff. I mean, why wouldn’t we have? It was all the way back in fifth grade!
The show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader was conceived by Mark Burnett, who made a career out of competition and humiliation with Survivor, and seems to exist to remind American adults how stupid they really are. God willing, it will remind your average fifth grader how behind the curve he or she is as well.
As the mother of a third grader, I already know that I’m almost at my maximum capacity with what I know in math and grammar. Forget spelling. I am confident that the average fifth grader out there knows a lot more than I do about much more important things. Why someone felt the need to remind us how far we’ve sunk as a society is a mystery. Then again, maybe rubbing our noses in it is exactly what we deserve.
Fox has a website where you can test your own smarts against the average fifth grader. First question: is a bat a mammal? I said, bats fly, they hang upside down, they have fur, they must be mammals. True! Next question: what planet is closest to the Sun? A) Earth, B) Venus and C) Mercury. I believe Earth is third closest to the Sun but what is closest? No fair looking on Google! I’m going to randomly guess Mercury. Oh my god! It was right. Doing well so far. What is the second largest planet in our solar system? I think I know this. A) Jupiter, B) Saturn or C) Uranus. I thought Jupiter was the biggest planet. Next biggest would be…I’ll say Saturn? Wow, correct again. Does this mean…? Could I really be…?
True or false? Marble is a metamorphic rock. I really do not know the answer to this. But I’ll say yes. And that is CORRECT! Which of the following words is an adverb? Lovely, lonely, lazily? Now I’m starting to feel insulted. That’s way too easy. Lazily is of course the answer. What gives? I thought I was supposed to be failing miserably. Is this going to be one of those moments where I actually get to feel smart? Like watching Junior Jeopardy?
What is the largest artery in the human body? 1) Aorta, 2) Femoral or 3) Carotid. I’m sorry to say that I really don’t know the answer to this but I have to guess Aorta. And what do you know, 100 percent correct. A polygon has a minimum of how many sides? A) 3, B) 4 or C) 6. No fair asking your 3rd grade daughter. I will guess the biggest number – 6. And finally, I got one wrong. And that’s where the quiz ended for me.
I was led on to believe that I had what it took to actually be smarter than a 5th grader but, come to find, that I am dumb as a rock.
I don’t know if it’s worth investing one’s time watching a show like this or not. I am not one to judge. I do know that at least it gets the old noggin working. It may be, on some level, an exercise in humiliation, but on another level it’s something the whole family can watch and laugh while learning a thing or two.
By the way, the polygon question? I went back over it and I see that I misread the question. It said, “has a minimum of how many sides”? The answer would naturally be “3.” Am I over-thinking this?
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Fox. Find out more about it on fox.com/areyousmarter/.