Ryerson…Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

[W]hen asked to share experiences in their grade 5 classrooms, Ryerson students drew a blank. Although they all admit the education they received was probably a good foundation for the rest of their schooling, few of them were able to confidently pinpoint the key topics they learned that year in elementary school.

Like most contestants on the Fox show Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader, a panel of 5 Ryerson students from various programs was outwitted by the same-sized group of fifth graders from St. Margaret of Scotland Elementary School.

The American game show, which of course has since released a Canadian version, poses basic grade school questions to adults, who in turn earn money by answering correctly.
Although there was no grand prize to speak of, the mechanics of the game remain the same.

The questions asked to our panels consisted of typical geography, math, English, and French questions a student in grade 5 would encounter. For every question asked, a greater number of the fifth graders knew the answer compared to Ryerson students.

Allison Hartley, 10, scored the best on this pop quiz by confidently answering almost all of the questions asked. She was able to identify incorrect grammar and recite the provinces and their capitals with ease.

Math was the least popular subject among both groups of students. Only 1 out of the 5 Ryerson students was able to remember that a triangle with 2 equal sides is called an isosceles triangle. The 10 and 11-year old students were much faster when it came to identifying the mean, median, and mode in a set of numbers as well.

Alarmingly, all 10 of the students who participated failed to make the grade when it came to naming Canada’s provinces and territories along with their capitals.

The group of Ryerson students, all of whom belong to the Faculty of Communication and Design or the Faculty of Arts, were surprised by how little they remembered from their elementary school education, but most said that after years of not working with the material, they were bound to forget it.

And though we all remember teachers telling us some of the skills we learned in elementary school would be used throughout our lives, this hardly seems to be the case.

“I haven’t had to divide a fraction in years, but every teacher made it seem like we would deal with them all the time,” says Jordan Peckitt, a second-year Criminal Justice major.