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University Challenge: “Midnight’s Children opens with which word?” Knowing obscure material will not grant you a job at NASA, but it’s customary to conserve our rich culture

Emma Claire Smith, Wednesday 12 March 2014

University Challenge … 'Extensive and obscure knowledge demonstrates enthusiasm and commitment’. Photograph: BBC

Answering a question correct on University Challenge is what fuels my addiction. Every Monday, 8:00pm, my forehead crinkles as profoundly difficult questions are asked. Kissing numbers, sphere packing – what is this language? Then finally: a round on Olly Murs song titles! A round on female Disney characters! I could give these contestants a run for their money. It has developed into a nationwide game to make a joke of the contestants on University Challenge (a friend's dad cruelly plays “spot the gay” throughout), but I ardently hail

fruitless information. I use “fruitless” with caution, since without a doubt no information is fruitless. No, the majority of the nation’s population will never need to know the city to Netherlands’ oldest university, or the name of that famous French obstetrician. Except an individual does and ought to. Knowledge does not necessarily need to reflect one’s ability at a job, or boost our social skills. Rather, extensive and obscure knowledge demonstrates enthusiasm and commitment. There must be more occasions to circulate and admire this. Each of us unconsciously picks information that we believe is worth remembering. When you answer a question correct on University Challenge it handily dismisses the previous failed attempts. The thrill may even result in yelling at the TV “Get in there! How does she not know the answer?!”. If you have done this, do not worry, you are not alone. Often, it is the questions on contemporary culture that create a concoction of joy and surprise for us. Contestants are frequently baffled by these, feeding the stereotype that they Do you get a thrill after answering questions correctly? remain dormant in dusty books on German politics. But, this commands a ranking of knowledge – an individual is forgiven for not perceiving Freud’s id, but grilled for not reading not knowing who Barrack Obama is. This is why we must hail fruitless information. Most of us have one or more areas of in depth knowledge on a certain topic. Perhaps a small number of times during your life (aside from academic assessments) you will be able to illustrate your expertise. But it’s likely that no more than one individual will fully cherish this knowledge throughout your lifespan. Instead, people tend to tactlessly toddle away. When I’ve only just begun sharing my knowledge selective schooling (“And then the children endure the Kent test…”) I am left sinking. I have abandoned the hope of discovering anyone that shares my passion or being able to spontaneously raise the discussion. And so I respect those that can pursue an opening for their unfathomable and enigmatic knowledge. Related Articles  Who will win the next University Challenge? 10th February 2014  Test your intelligence – the most accurate IQ test 18th February 2014  University Challenge Humiliation 9th March 2014  Technology is Defeating Knowledge 26th March 2014

Even though this niche information will not generate nationwide recognition, these individuals are essential for injecting vitality and maintaining a rich culture. Teachers would seemingly terminate without their encyclopaedic bibles – the National Curriculum. We would be stumped without driving instructors who tutor our brains to change gear, check mirrors and steer in unison. We would yearn for those white coats that offer a diagnosis (which you may later have to Google) and furnish our world with hope and optimism.

The vast majority of people comprehend an adequate amount about the economy to contribute to a moderate dinner discussion. But I crave people who guard our specialist, obscure and complex knowledge. These devotees of the obscure, gourmets of the profound and enthusiasts of the intricacy infuse an oomph . On behalf of this motive, I bow down to the valiant contestants of University Challenge for their stamina and stubborn enthusiasm to the pernickety.


Are you smarter than a 10 Year Old? We always like to try and prove our intelligence no matter how old we are, but this show really does cause contestants to dig out their school books

Emma Claire Smith, Wednesday 12 March 2014

Contestants are belittled as Dick and Dom monkey around with the children

This TV quiz show is like the zoo. If you dislike seeing chimpanzees encaged then you’ll detest it and ought to not throw away the precious period you get to spend in front of the box. Nevertheless, ‘Are You Smarter than a 10 year Old?’ is made for families, and they relish the on-screen chaos. The shell of this TV show does what you would imagine –it delivers a family fun quiz whereby Dick and Dom use the rise and fall of an adult, who attempts to outshine a flock of 10 year olds. Hurrah! Oh, and not forgetting the guidance that family members have to offer, even if a daughter suggests buying a pony with the money daddy wins. Unluckily, this show has been plagued with Dick and Dom’s aggravating attitudes. Spectating allows us to picture them swinging from tree tops, because they’re

constantly monkeying around. Then again, complaining about their measly attempt to provide entertainment is not going to dramatically effect audience figures, hence why you should experience it for yourself. Even those of us that are regular quiz goers have our brains rattled with the challenging questions. This pretty much suggests that the contestants chances have ended before they even begin, well if it wasn’t for the 3 precious life lines – a selection of rather belittling, miniscule opportunities to regain a sense of pride. You must be cautioned that a mass amount of pretentious 10 year olds are Which of the hazardous – as they prance onto the TV set be prepared to switch channel, or you may feel at ease following metals turning the TV off altogether.

forms an amalgam

As expected, the quiz show asks questions based on with other metals? traditional school subjects. But, these are not ones that would’ve been in your exam paper at the age of 10. A question may be along the lines of ‘Which of the following metals forms an amalgam with other metals?’ If like me, your first thought is probably, ‘what even is an amalgam?’ Well, the 10 year olds would be able to tell you, for sure. Like trained puppies, their unnatural intelligence belittles every contestant that they stand beside on their podium. Nonetheless, their feral behaviour does provide some family fun.

Besides the suffocating irritability of the quiz show, there are some astounding moments when contestants share personal reasons for wanting to win the money. Also, who can resist smiling at the children’s innocent giggles when they don’t comprehend Dick and Dom’s innuendos? This show spotlights their adorable natures. Each golden moment permit us to not only fail at answering The children innocently giggle at Dick & questions, but to also offer life advice for the sorry Dom’s innuendos souls. All from the safety of our sofas at home. We are reeled into the hyperactivity, tension and triumph because it reminds us of our school days. The quiz show takes place amongst an elaborate set, one that is even equipped with desks! It’s no wonder why some are afraid to participate with the dreaded, educational atmosphere. Often, the camera casts over the crumpled faces of audience members. Do you find yourself looking like this too? Don’t worry, you can be sure to witness the moment when a contestant squirms due to the embarrassment of answering incorrectly, especially because their 10 year old acquaintance appears to be breezing through. ‘Are you Smarter than a 10 year Old?’ certainly scores high on the aggravation scale, but it is perhaps the most comical quiz show and the questions provide a test for young and older brains. Although we should be frank, contestants have a preset persona so they are nearly always going to be failures – the show isn’t really about winning the top

amount of money, it’s about capturing the wit and intelligence of our younger generation.


Grammar schools – Should they expand to offer a helping hand for deprived children? 32 Local Authorities offer grammar schools, but the other 120 do not. Mr. Gove needs a new plan to open up the gateway for every child’s future.

Emma Claire Smith, Tuesday 22 February 2014

Passing the 11+ can offer a pathway to freedom for disadvantaged pupils Even though it may be predictable, it remains appalling because each child, even those from the poorest of families should be given an equal opportunity to excel.

Unlike money, intelligence is not an indicator of wealth yet thousands of children in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Aberdeen have unpromising prospects. A dismal 8th of them manage to flee from poverty and stand proud at their graduations. And less than 3% of children on free school meals gain entry to a grammar school. Coming from Kent, I had the chance to enter this elite educational root. What a great opportunity! But primary school children are blissfully unaware of the controversy

surrounding the 11-plus. It is not simply a matter of sitting the test; instead they endure a rigorous boot camp. Having a high academic ability plunges students into the inescapable pressure of teachers and often parents.

Less than 3% of

But this is worth it, right? It seems that this is the case, children on free school especially when league tables come into play. Before facing either success or fatality my knees trembled at meals gain entry to a the thought of attending the local comprehensive. New Brompton College only achieved 9% A*-C GCSE grades, grammar school whereas Chatham Grammar School for Girls managed 95%. We can see why many parents and teachers push their brightest students. A grammar school diminishes educational background, allowing each child to transform into highly intelligent individuals, both socially and academically. Something needs to change to offer all students this chance.

Largely eliminated during the 1970’s, grammar schools opened the door for the brightest buttons and diminished social segregation between working class and middle class children. Every single child had an equal chance to succeed, even if their parents couldn’t afford to put a meal on the table every day. But this system is now deeply buried under the control of Education Secretary, Michael Gove, who recently refused bids for a new grammar school in Sevenoaks, Kent. Refusal prompted a petition from over 2,000 infuriated parents in an attempt to offer their Miss. Smith is 1 of 2,000 that have children the best start in life. It seems that Mr. Gove is not hearing his people. contributed to the petition Overseas a parent does not have to grit their teeth at the thought of their child attending the local comprehensive school. In Finland a child is not labelled by ability, inspectors are nonexistent and schools are not judged based on rankings. Yet the rest of the world has been quick to categorise and compare – Finland is 5th for science, 6th for reading and 12th in the world for maths. Finland is 5th for Unsurprisingly, Britain trails far behind at 28th place. Does science, 6th for reading this mean that we should follow in their footsteps?

and 12th in the world

Undoubtedly children will never refer to teachers by their first names, run around in their socks or all attend the for maths same comprehensive. But 76% of parents backed the suggestion of expanding grammar schools in a poll devised by ICM. Children must be educated alongside peers that are thirsty to learn too if they have any chance to develop their natural intelligence. A fortune cookie could definitely do with coming Michael Gove’s way. Perhaps the words of wisdom will change his pessimism towards possible growth.

For now at least, 164 grammar schools remain, whether they will stay is unknown but we should not pin our hopes on possible expansion.


Ask Lucy: Your teaching questions answered Teach First’s Lucy Brown on her daring attempt to educate others from a very unfamiliar world

Emma Claire Smith, Tuesday 24 February 2014

Teaching is often tricky – just ask Lucy Brown. Last month the History teacher was plunged into the spring term, but she faced a brick wall as the students’ negativity remained. Despite her tough ordeal, she has stayed dedicated to her chief purpose of gaining qualified teacher status. Meeting up with her after a long day at school in Gillingham, Kent, she conveys what it’s like to be immersed amongst misfortune, frustration and scarce resources. It seems the students do not share her passion for education.

I always seem to be asked, why did I decide to teach? To put it simply, my own education has enthused me to help others. Luckily, I cannot remember huffing and puffing at lifeless lessons because I was constantly encouraged to succeed. It is hard as a child to appreciate an inspiring teacher - often we only remember the ones that gave out the best sweeties. I now savour my education and recognise that the chance I had, not all children have, and this is unjust. Every child must be given a chance to get an excellent education, to relish their education and throughout life this should create a pathway to additional opportunities. Fulfilling this task is why I decided to teach. Being privately educated has not hindered my teaching, but sometimes my understanding. No one can alter their own past, but the present and future can always be changed. So in a way you need to think about the role your background may play, but it is an unchangeable period of life, so I try my best not to fret about it too much. There are certain aspects of my students’ lives that I will never be able to identify with. I can sympathise, but frankly I will never be able to fully connect with their tough young lives. During the year I have become certain about this. I attempt to understand each of my student’s and I try and turn a class into a team and convince each student that they have potential. The start of every lesson, during the first month, was like racing for the reduced bakery aisle (laughs)! You immediately capture that excitement and hook it onto concentrating on your target. I was incredibly apprehensive, drained – and definitely very scared – before each lesson even begun. Bizarre is how I would categorise it: one month ago I was undergoing teacher training, the next I was expected to be a highly responsible grown-up. Practicing my posture, tone of voice and hand movements repeatedly beforehand only offered hope that I would be able to control 30 children. The start of every lesson, during the first month, was like racing for the reduced bakery aisle (laughs)! You immediately capture that excitement and hook it onto concentrating on your target. I was incredibly apprehensive, drained – and definitely very scared – before each lesson even begun. Bizarre is how I would categorise it: one month ago I was undergoing teacher training, the next I was expected to be a highly responsible grown-up. Practicing my posture, tone of voice and hand movements repeatedly beforehand only offered hope that I would be able to control 30 children. Planning lessons and behaviour strategies is my holiday. Teaching is not like university - deadlines can no longer be crammed into one week. I used to think that saying, ‘patience is a virtue’, was nonsense, but preparing definitely puts this into action. Sailing used to be a hobby, yet now it’s a real treat because planning has taken over. I envisaged using my holidays to sail the Caribbean – how wrong was I? Now, ordering strawberry scented stickers is my ultimate idea of fun! (Just kidding) I do still enjoy a good ol’ pint down the local. Nonetheless, teaching is tough, but that’s what I signed up for. The one thing I would change from last year is the amount I yelled. I’ve learnt how to stay relaxed and i’m far more chilled out. If someone has been filming, I dread to think how often I raised my voice. My top tip to any new teacher would be to have a stress ball – clutch it tight when you feel like you’re going to explode! Shouting isn’t

worth the energy. It really does drain enthusiasm and will leave you weary by the end of the day. This journey has definitely taught me that and an awful lot more about who I really am. Teachers are far tougher on their own mishaps than any of their students. We are called ‘trainee’ teachers for a reason. It is vital to take a breather and relax. Also, look to the future rather than regretting past mistakes. Just don't be so hard on yourself. You’re developing just as much as the students, who will hopefully try to grow too. It's about learning from experience – I’ve all made mistakes, learnt from them, learnt from them, got back up quickly and carried on. Remember: embrace the journey, both the highs and lows.