I love watching "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader". I always try to answer the questions to see if I myself am smarter than a 5th grader. In a way, it makes me realise how far behind Malaysian education system is when compared to the US.
I perceive US 5th graders as nothing different than our Tahun 5 students. In fact they are younger, as US kids start their 1st Grade at the age of 5 or 6. By the time they reach 5th Grade, the amount of knowledge they have learned in school is massive.
Our Tahun 5 kids learn Malay, English, Maths, Science, Islamic/Moral Studies, Music and Physical Education. Over at the other side of the world, 5th Graders learn similar subjects (of course minus Malay and Islamic Studies) PLUS World History, American History, World Geography, American Geography, Social Studies and more.
Though some subjects are common in both countries' education systems, the depths of which they are covered in are far apart. I remember the days when I was in Tahun 5, the most complicated Maths topics that I learned were fractions and decimals. Little that I knew somewhere across the world a child my age was already learning algebra, which I didn't come across until high school. And that's only for one subject, and a common one at it.
Don't get me started with those subjects that even Malaysian adults haven't heard of. While the kids in "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader" can easily name the countries that Amazon River passes through, me a grown-up didn't even know that Morocco is in Africa (not in Middle East as I've always thought it would be) until I encountered a Morrocan a few weeks ago. A 5th Grader knows how many votes it takes to pass a bill in US parliament, they learn it in Social Studies. Here, we Malaysians only learn the difference between Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat when we get to Tingkatan 5, which is equivalent to Senior Year in US high school. And had I not been a fan of Jonathan Rhys Myers, I would never know that the infamous King Henry VIII was from House of Tudor, unlike the current Queen Elizabeth II who's from House of Windsor. Why Jonathan Rhys Myers? Because he plays King Henry VIII in the tv series "The Tudors" from which I learn a great deal about the history of Great Britain, something that a US 5th Grader actually learns in his/her World History class.
Well well well, do we really have to wonder why, even if Malaysian kids break their backs carrying textbooks to school everyday, in the end we are still far behind the developed countries?