Trivial humility

28th January 2000 at 00:00
IF YOU have an IQ of 130 and can't remember, you must be a teacher. Or so it would appear from our occupational breakdown of prizewinners on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Of course it's embarrassing when a deputy head doesn't know that Charles Kennedy is the Liberal Democrats' leader. But does it really matter if a teacher can't name the horse that collapsed in the 1956 Grand National? (Devon Loch, in case you were wondering)

Quiz shows are popular entertainment - and great levellers that allow sewage workers like John McKeown of Glasgow (he won pound;64,000) to emerge from their boiler-suited chysalis.

But even the most academic quizzes are odd measures of intelligence. Retired secretary Daphne Fowler, who was Radio 4's Brain of Britain last year, admitted she had to write "Left" and "Right" on her hands to pass her driving test.

It's tempting to suggest that teachers shouldn't risk such a public humiliation. But that would be sadly defeatist and deprive the rest of us of much innocent entertainment. Besides, teachers who "bomb" on TV quizzes teach children an important lesson: the necessity of absorbing the appropriate information for any particular task they have to do.

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