Counting on it

When I was at school, which is quite some time ago now, your school year related to the number of years that you’d been in that particular school. So, when I first turned up at West Lea Infants School, I was a 1st year. And when I left the 3rd year there, I went into the 1st year at Buckley CP. Admittedly my Not-So-Posh-As-It’d-Like-To-Think-It-Is secondary school in Chester had ‘Removes’ and ‘Shells’ rather than first and second years, but at least there was still a linear progression after that.

Then everything changed, with the introduction of such terms as “Year 6” and “Key Stage 92”, and I lost all track of where I was with the UK school system. Then again, I got confused when they changed the front cover of the British passport from black to maroon, so that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Needless to say that when I got to the United States, the grade system appeared about as penetrable as Fort Knox. Indeed, my attempt to explain the relative school years of The Youngest and The Eldest to a friend this weekend was only finally resolved with complex algebraic formulae, a road map and a small tube of Super Glue.

As a result, “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” which I was regrettably forced to watch this evening, could have been Mastermind for all I knew. For those who haven’t had the ‘good fortune’ to see the show, it’s basically a quiz show where people pit their wits against (or alongside, really) ten year old American schoolkids. It’s a bit like Who Wants To Be A Millionnaire, with added humiliation.

Really it should be called “Are You As Stupid As These Americans We Found From Who Knows Where?” This evening’s show featured a woman who would have been knocked out had she not been able to rely on a ten year old to tell her how many centimetres there are in three-and-a-half metres.

Frankly, however much Americans rely on feet and inches, there’s no excuse for not knowing that there’s 350 centimetres in three and a half metres. And if you don’t know that kind of thing, please don’t go on national TV and let the world know that you don’t have a clue.

By the way, did I mention that she was an American high school teacher?

12 thoughts on “Counting on it

  1. Nat

    I cannot believe that anyone cannot know how many centimetres are in three and a half metres!

    I haven’t seen the UK version of this show (which I believe due to the fact that nobody understands the grade numbering system in this country anymore is called “Are you smarter than a ten year old”). But it sounds pretty typical for the ritual humiliation which seems to be a prerequisite for quiz shows these days!

  2. Sarcasmom

    I am always amazed at what people will do on television. They let the world know, their house is a pigsty, their children are out of control and they can’t sing. And the ones that amaze me the most are the ones that think they will come out smelling like a rose in a “60 Minutes” interview.

  3. Almost American

    The world is sometimes a very small place. I knew you were from the Chester area, but now I’m trying to figure out how old you are and when you were at secondary school – chances are you know at least one person in my family!

    Sorry you had to suffer through that show. I watched it once – tried to see it as funny, but it was just too sad!

  4. tNb

    I’m amazed you could have made it through the entire show! Of course, I survived ‘Dancing on Ice’ on the other side of the pond last week … 😉

  5. Karen

    We have a version here in Iceland too,
    Ertu skarpari en skólakrakki?
    Which I think is “Are you smarter than a schoolchild?”
    I haven’t seen it as I don’t watch tv, but I have seen the adds on the bus.

    Where is the originality in tv? You can go to any country and find a version of something you watch at home, it’s just too much and mostly rubbish too, of course.

  6. Sarah

    That show is just plain dumb and with an annoying presenter.

    I am with you totally on getting my head around the year system in schools here. I substitute teach regularly and I think after 2 years I now know what a sophomore is! I always have to give the age range for the year when I report on my subbing on my blog!

  7. Sarah

    OMG a fellow Man Utd fan….just looked back and found you’re about to leave UK post. I have been a fan for 35 years, born in Manc, moved south but never lost the love for the reds. Giggsy is my all time hero 🙂

  8. Paul Sheffrin

    My favourite was on a UK show – can’t remember which one – where the contestant was asked “Who wrote Handel’s Messiah?” and answered tentatively “Beethoven?”

  9. GrahameD

    The grade thing used to befuddle me too, but then I worked out that if you just add five to the grade you get the age of the kid (usually, or close enough).

    I was just in your neck o the woods this weekend (Cobble Hill actually) – love that part of the city.

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