Jason B. Ladd

Author | Apologist | Entrepreneur

Are You Wiser than a 5th Grader?


King Solomon reveals a child’s true mother. Public domain.

You have probably not been asked if you are wiser than a 5th grader.  “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” was an American game show which matched adults against children to decide who could best answer questions taken from elementary school text books from first through fifth grade.

It’s humorous and a bit embarrassing to be labeled “not smarter than a 5th grader.”

Sometimes we seem to be obsessed with being smart.  Kids are told they must work to be smarter.  Parents go back to school to get smarter.  Adults read books to make them feel smarter.

Smarter, smarter, smarter.

Is this the ultimate end?  What happens we all we focus on is smartness?

  • We could build the strongest economy in the world.
  • We could become the most prosperous nation in the world.
  • Maybe then we would could approach world peace.

Then maybe:

But what if that all came crashing down?

What if an economic collapse exposed false assumptions and empty promises?  What if we realized the folly in robbing Peter to pay Paul.  What if we realized that

success based off greed and fraud will always end in disaster?

Author and apologist Ravi Zacharias illustrates how our university professors teach that there is no morality, and then Wall Street traders are sent to prison for living it out.

Smarty-pants.  Smart Alec.  Too-smart-for-your-own-good.

Maybe being smart isn’t everything.

Wisdom isn’t everything, either.  Solomon showed us that 3,000 years ago.  But wisdom is always a good thing.

How do you feel about a person who is wise, but not smart?  How did you feel about Forrest Gump?  He called himself “not a smart man” and is described as having an IQ below 75.  But he was wise enough to know the intricacies of true love.

How do you feel about a person who is smart, but not wise?  Bernie Madoff was mentally alert, bright, knowledgeable, shrewd, clever, and intelligent.

But he was not wise, and many people suffered.

If we’re going to start calling names, I think I’d rather be called a wise guy than a smart alec.

STEM is the buzzword for the future of education: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  America is falling behind in these area when compared to other developed nations.  We are pushing hard for more degrees in these areas.

Ask a college freshman about philosophy.  “There’s no future in philosophy unless you want to become a philosophy professor,” may be the response.

  • Science helps describe the world, but it cannot give me a purpose to continue living in it.
  • Technology keeps us competitive in the global economy, but also turns my sons into Minecraft zombies.
  • Engineering is an essential field for future development, but it won’t help me engineer the solution to my daughter’s broken heart.
  • Math is a universal language, but smart + wealthy + successful ≠ Happiness.

I played hard at recess.  It was hard to stay awake after lunch.  I’m sure I missed a few facts in 5th grade.  If I’m not smarter than a 5th grader, I’m okay with that.

But I do hope that one day I will be wiser than a 5th grader.

One day . . .

Here’s a start.  It involves math and philosophy:

Happiness ≠ the ultimate goal in life.

What do you think is the ultimate goal in life?

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About Jason B. Ladd

Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.

One Reply

  1. Sue Nash

    To live out God’s intended purpose for me and to glorify Him in whatever I do.