Are You Wiser Than a Fifth Grader?


Last night we revisited a family classic, RocketMan.

It’s a slapsticky 1997 Disney film about an idiot-savant space engineer who unexpectedly is sent on the first mission to Mars. Crude humor ensues.

Most of it is forgettable, childish humor. A few scenes have stuck with me and are just as funny as when I was ten years old.

What really struck me watching RocketMan after nearly two decades was how many plot details I notice as an adult.

His engineer’s office is too big. There is no way he would design both flight software and the shuttle’s motherboard. And launching an astronaut into Mars with three weeks of training? Yeah, not likely.

Intelligence versus wisdom

The ability to relate a movie script to real life — I’d say that’s more wisdom than intelligence. Maybe I knew more facts about space in fifth grade (name the planets, distance to moon, etc.), but as an adult I know how to contextualize.

So, we all want to know “are we smarter than a fifth grader.” But does that matter?

I’d rather be wiser than a fifth grader. This makes the difference between taking a silly movie at face value and relating it reality and one’s own experiences.

What does this have to do with Excel?

You knew this was coming.

I stress Excel wisdom over Excel intelligence.

So what if you have dozens of Excel functions memorized? Do you have real-life examples of when you would use them? Can you spot drawbacks of one function over another?

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