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By Nisha Williams

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

"Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" was a game show that aired on Fox in 2007. I was thrilled about this show because it was fun, educational, challenging and above all there were prizes to be won. If you lost, you had to tell the world who you were and that you were not smarter than a Fifth Grader. I can do that! I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a minor in Criminal Justice, I worked in the administrative field of different sectors for over a decade and have small children, so I could not possibly fail at this.

Tonight is the airing of the show. I am ready. The contestant is a cardiac surgeon. I am sure she is smarter than a fifth grader. The first question appears: What is the fastest bird on foot? Out of the five answers, I pick ostrich. Correct. The next question: What is the closest planet to the sun? Out of the three answers, I choose Mercury. Correct. I'm on a roll. The third question appears: Who was the first person to step foot on the moon? I answer Neil Armstrong. Correct again. I've got this in the bag.

The fourth question: In the northern hemisphere, during what month does the autumnal equinox fall? Huh? I am assuming October because of the word "autumnal" and I think of the fall season, although I have no clue what is in the northern hemisphere or what autumnal equinox even means. The answer is September, and to this day I do not know why. But why would a fifth grader need to know that? Why would anyone need to know that?

I never underestimate the power of learning. This television show is a great example of how much we lose when we do not use. Our generation is learning every day, and some do not have the opportunity to learn at all. My eight-year-old brings home math homework that I am very capable of assisting her with, but she is not able to learn from me. After I tried and tried, I wondered why I was unsuccessful. I talked with her teacher and was told that it is not me or her; it is the design of the curriculum which teaches the children now in a far different way than I learned. I was totally confused with the way they were learning, and she was confused with my format.

In retrospect, I do find it interesting to go back and learn again with my child from kindergarten to the present third grade. It is astounding how much I have forgotten about even though I learned it in school, such as all the continents, each state capital, all the Presidents of the United States, and so on. The rise of technology also makes it simpler for the next generation to learn because of immediate access to information. I do believe that this generation relies too much on the computer instead of picking up books and reading them. In other countries, there are no computers – and often, there are no books. Now there are devices that speak to you so you do not have to read, but robs us of the ability to identify the words by spelling, definition or sentence structure.

I would encourage you to read to your child or a child so they will become familiar with physically holding books and seeing words and how they are used. Learn with your young children, and see what you have missed or forgotten. You never know when you could be the next contestant, and the world will see whether or not you are Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.

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