OPINION

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

17 October, 2018 | Kamran Mansoor
  • Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

When my boys, one eleven and the other eight, came to me with yet another innocent item from their never-ending wishlist, I replied with a clear two-letter response - “No!”

“Why exactly do you need the Nintendo Switch? We already have a Sony PlayStation 4 with a good collection of games. So, absolutely no!” As they usually do, they snuck away hearing my stern response.

This was Monday.

The following Saturday, I went ahead and bought the Nintendo Switch!

So, what had happened in a matter of 4-5 days?

To make things a little more interesting, let me do a ‘Hangover’ type thing and retrace my steps. How did I end up buying something when the last word I recall uttering was a resounding NO? 

So, Monday was a NO and so was Tuesday. On Wednesday, I don’t recall them approaching me about the Nintendo. On Thursday, they came to me asking for an ‘appointment’ on Friday.

“Appointment for what?” I asked.

“We would like to present to you”, my elder son explained. I was not sure what they were up to, but I agreed. Then, they became formal and asked me for a specific time. I said, “Okay guys, let’s meet at 4pm.” 

Come Friday, with my usual weekend distractions, I forgot about all 'appointments' for later that evening. But the other party remembered as they had a ‘proposal’ to present. At exactly 4pm, they approached me with a laptop in hand and requested me to accompany them to the TV room. Laptop? TV room? Now, I was interested.

With the laptop connected to the TV, I sat, waiting for the ‘show’ to start. My son stood up like a seasoned presenter and began. “Dad, today we would like to make a presentation to you on why you should consider buying the Nintendo Switch,” he said. The younger one, right next to his big brother, was a confident aide giving purposeful smiles. I said okay.

Then came the first slide. It was indeed an actual presentation! How did they even think of this? They proceeded to present all their slides and made persuasive points, one after the other. From how technology needs to be relevant to the times to lifestyle mobility, to a convenient offer that was available online right now. They even brought in an emotional hook by showing me a genre of games that I preferred. They then ended with a video review of the Switch embedded in the presentation.

I did not show any emotion. I asked them to run through the slides again without presenting it. Deep inside, as a father, I was in complete awe of the innocence of their idea and how they executed it to get something that they really wanted. More so, I was impressed with how creatively they worked the whole thing out!

They picked a time and day when I’d be the most relaxed to discuss the subject. They chose a medium that would get my undivided attention and concentration. Maybe they observed me while I was working at home on my laptop. They chose an unconventional way to visually justify their arguments. They took into consideration the rationality of decision making by bringing a reasonably attractive purchase offer to the table. They brought up the convenience factor of buying online. To top it off, they tugged on my emotional needs by showing me a game that I liked. Impressive indeed!

Without even realizing it, our kids teach us life lessons and reaffirm our knowledge. In this case, it was,

  1. A no is a no until it becomes a yes. You don’t need to be stubborn, but persistence and creativity can lead to this transformation of mindset.
  2. Know your subject. What you want and why.
  3. Know your audience, including their rational and emotional needs.

So, am I smarter than a fifth grader?

Well, I think the benchmark of intelligence has been upgraded from when the show with this title began over a decade ago. I wish to be as smart as today’s fifth graders. They are more knowledgeable, intelligent, resourceful and confident than we ever were at that age.

Boys 1: Dad 0

They won the pitch and this is their presentation.


About The author

Kamran is the Head of Marketing & Communications for a leading automotive company in Saudi Arabia. Besides his day job, he enjoys the 24/7 responsibility of being a father to his 3 kids. His creative writing on different subjects can be found on his blog - www.kammansense.com


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