Are you smarter than a fifth grader?
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
I hate the whole concept of Fox's television show, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thought
it would be fun to have local teachers create
a twenty-question quizon stuff fifth-graders ought to know. Here are the
questions from the quiz, each of which is hyperlinked to the Google search
results for the question text:
is a hyperbole?
chamber of the heart receives blood from the lungs?
the equator a line of latitude or longitude?
is a mixed number?
organ in the body produces bile?
kind of a root is a carrot?
tribes of American Plains Indians lived in what structures?
did American Indians of the Northwest coast use to symbolize their clan and tell
is larger: 3/5 or 5/8?
are the three branches of the United States government?
are the names of the five Great Lakes?
many hydrogen atoms are there in a molecule of water?
are as strong as an ox." Is this statement a simile or metaphor?
part of speech is "after": An adverb, conjunction or preposition?
invented peanut butter?
many pints are in 2 gallons?
many feet are in 9 yards?
part of speech describes a verb?
is a proper noun?
is something found on a plant cell that is not found on an animal
Go ahead. I dare you to compare the Google search results to the quiz answers. For nearly every question, the first or second Google link has the correct answer.
In most instances, you don't even need to click through to the actual web site.
You can just read the short blurb for the link on the Google results page.
[Also, note that question 14 is a trick
questionand that the teachers' answer
to question 20may be incorrect (I think it should say chloroplasts, not
So now we're not only spending all this time in school making kids memorize
stuff that literally can be found in mere seconds, we're actually making game
shows out of it (like we've always done) and framing it in such a way so
that grown-ups feel stupid if they don't remember information that
most adults never need to keep in their heads. Let's be honest
here: when is the last time you really needed to know the names of all five
Great Lakes, whether or not animal cells have cell walls, or who invented peanut
blogged about this before. I know there is some core knowledge that we want
all of our kids to know, both because we want them to be able to recall it even
faster than the time it takes to search the Web and because it's part of our
cultural / societal background and heritage. But as I said in my
earlier post, I'm guessing that this body of knowledge is much less than
we've traditionally believed because of the technology that is now available to
We used to have to memorize things because the only way we could store
knowledge and information was in our heads. We passed that information down
orally from generation to generation. Over time we learned to mark stone
tablets, knot ropes, write on papyrus and then paper, and print books. With each
technological progression, we needed to carry less factual information in our
heads because it was available in other places and we could get it if we needed
it. Our ability to store information digitally on hard drives, DVDs, and the
Internet is just the latest transition, with a concurrent reduction of the need
to carry around a bunch of disparate, disconnected facts that are irrelevant to
our daily lives. There's a reason we don't make most individuals memorize the
periodic table or the quadratic equation: they don't need that information most
of the time and, if they do, they can find it pretty easily.
Am I smarter than a fifth grader? Yes, and it's not because I have memorized
all of this stuff. It's because I'm an adult who can find the information that I need in mere seconds when I need it,
critically consume information, and act upon information in professional, ethical, and productive ways.
What do you want your fifth grader to be learning in
[Update: I love this follow-up on the Journals of Journeys blog.]
Delay, deny and deflect were the strategies Facebook has used to navigate scandals it's faced in recent years, according to the New York Times.
- The exhaustive report is based on interviews with more than 50 people with ties to the company.
- It outlines how senior executives misled the public and lawmakers in regards to what it had discovered about privacy breaches and Russian interference in U.S. politics.
- On Thursday, Facebook cut ties with one of the companies, Definers Public Relations, listed in the report.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
Sure we know it would be bad, but what do all of these scary numbers really mean?
- At the press time, the value was $21.7 trillion dollars.
- Lots of people know that a default would be bad, but not everybody seems to get how horrible it would be.
- While the risk is low, knowing what would happen if a default did occur is important information for all voters.
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