Child Genius | How does the programme portray intelligence?

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Most reality shows spark controversy, and Child Genius is no exception. Series finales are often followed by arguments that the show placed too much pressure on contestants, while the 2017 series was also interrupted by accusations of cheating parents.

Today I’m going to talk about another issue; how the competition and the programme portrays “intelligence” and “genius” in a one-dimensional way which reinforces misconceptions about intelligence.

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Robot Wars and Women in STEM – Can the show achieve its goals?

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Season 10 of Robot Wars will be hit our screens in the next few months. As a long-term fan, I’m happy that the most memorable show of my childhood is doing well. However, I’m uncertain about whether Season 10 will be able to outgrow the problems Seasons 8 and 9 highlighted.

Interviews with cast members such as Angela Scanlon hinted at the social goals invested under the layers of fun and spectacle. Rebooted Robot Wars aimed to encourage women into engineering, to make robots more than just “boy’s toys”, and to interest children and young people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths). But Seasons 8 and 9 revealed dramatic advances in robot technology- — advances which have taken Robot Wars far from its amateur-friendly roots. To me, the rebooted show is less interesting or entertaining than the original show as a result. Also, the way both seasons have portrayed robot teams arguably locks out women and people unattached to STEM.

As a result, I believe that rebooted Robot Wars is currently failing at the social goals it set out to achieve. In its current format, it’s instead opposing the causes it wishes to champion. Something needs to change, and I hope that whatever is planned for Season 10 can bring the show closer towards its aims.

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