Child Genius: New competition show starring smart kids, hosted by astronaut Leland Melvin


Wow Xeni this show is abusive toward the featured children as well as to the children who will unfortunately watch it. I think Boing Boing fell into the novelty pit on this one.


How about offering to split the $100,000 among them if they team up and figure out some nasty engineering or health problem?

Hah-hah, silly me. TV shows have to show people screaming, crying, or smugging to get ratings.


No way, let them fight to the death for our amusement.

Also, just now, this headline was sitting on the page right across from Yotsuba.

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Shows like this make me nervous; I find that popular narratives give too much credence to nature over nurture, which can be pretty disempowering if it gets internalized. Why practice if you just weren’t born with an eye for art, an ear for music, a mind for math, or a knack for technology?

This in turn shows up in other places: kids draw a neat picture and get streamed into art. Perhaps they fail an algebra quiz and get told that not everyone is good with numbers. Another person refuses to start something because they are convinced they will fail (and at the beginning, rightly so).

Much like how crime is often represented as “motive plus opportunity”, I feel the same thing is true of talent. Stories like these tend to focus on the “wow look at how smart these kids are!” aspect and gloss over the fact that they have highly motivated parents who can afford to provide the opportunities that produce smart, engaged kids.


I just hope they don’t go too heavy on smart-kid stereotypes.

Also, given the production costs of any show (yes, even reality TV), why not make the prize large enough to cover 4 years of tuition at the schools most kids who could be labeled “geniuses” will be trying to get into? It would be a small enough change. By the time these kids are college freshman that’ll be about $400,000 (maybe $300,000 if you assume they can save it for the interim in something safe like treasury bonds) given historical tuition growth rates at top tier private schools.

Terribly sad–immense pressure on these children. Some of the parents seem to be clueless about the negative effects of their pushiness and pressure! Some choice quotes: “you don’t want to look like an idiot”, and “maybe you were lucky…” (The winner’s mom)! Seriously feel sorry for these kids. Let them be children!!!


I’ve had the same conversation with my son. He has enormous talent, but that’s not enough. He also needs skill. Thank goodness a lifetime of forced practice is paying off.

It’s not really the parents if you can believe that. These kids are often putting the pressure on themselves. Outside influences often don’t matter. Take it from someone whose blood pressure was 170-110 when he was 16 years old. Got out in time, 54 and still kicking. “You’re gonna kick off before you even
Get halfway through” Billy Joel

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