Starting quiz bowlers at a very early age

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Starting quiz bowlers at a very early age

Post by Strongside » Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:03 pm

This is a random post but it is something I had been thinking about lately. Athletes like Andre Agassi and Tiger Woods started playing their respective sports at a young age. Agassi's dad was intent on having a kid win all four majors and hung tennis balls above Agassi's crib. When Agassi started playing tennis he had a collection of about 18,000 tennis balls and hit 3,000 to 5,000 balls a day. Tiger Woods started playing golf at age 3.

Getting back to my original point the same thing could probably be done with quiz bowl. If a pair of parents wanted their kids to be good at quiz bowl they could start having them memorize basic things like states and their capitals, presidents, basic math, etcetera at the age of two or three. They could continue developing their child until he/she became old enough to play in high school and would by then they would hopefully be extremely good. Maybe a few parents in the school district would do the same thing and when the kids got to high school maybe they would win national championships. There is no guarantee the kid(s) would want to do quiz bowl in high school but there was no guarantee that Andre Agassi would want to play tennis.

Quiz Bowl is something where I believe you can get a lot better in a short time. I barely answered any quiz bowl questions when I started quiz bowl as a freshman in high school and I turned into a pretty good high school player. I would be interested to know if anyone else had thought of this idea of starting potential quiz bowlers at such a young age.
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Post by Matthew D » Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:05 pm

I guess I could try that with my 8 year old.. he is wanting to be like his sister and play now
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Post by wwellington » Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:07 pm

What would be the point? Teams can win national championships without having spent their entire lives studying for quizbowl.

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Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:39 pm

wwellington wrote:What would be the point? Teams can win national championships without having spent their entire lives studying for quizbowl.
These teams compete in fields consisting of approximately zero players with experience dating into elementary school as well, so your comparison is pointless.

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Post by solonqb » Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:26 pm

Speaking as someone who actually did those things for fun when he was little, I presume that many future really good quizbowl players will do so out of self-direction, with parental involvement being limited to supporting their child's voracious reading habit, which is as it should be.
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Post by Matthew D » Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:28 pm

I do know that several of the better players in Alabama have been playing since 5th or 6th grade.. I think Andy from Brindlee Mt started in 6th as did Mark.
The only reason I would even think about it was the fact that he had come to me the other day asking about playing and when he would be old enough. I told him that we would work on things that would help him with his school work and also help him with quiz bowl.
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Post by NotBhan » Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:34 pm

I think it's a great idea from an educational perspective, if the child is interested in playing. I wouldn't push a child into playing if he/she really didn't want to play, but I would do all I could to encourage the child if he/she showed any interest. Knowing a basic array of names and facts is a great starting point for learning about something -- who knows how much more a kid could learn if they had a lot of built-in knowledge by the age of 10? Think of how many things you've been exposed to specifically because of playing quizbowl, and imagine how much more you'd know about them if you'd started learning about them when you were 9.

From the game perspective, I think it would give a kid a massive advantage by the time the kid reaches HS. Having that basic network of facts helps to build acquisition of lots of other facts, so a kid might have a huge array of random accumulated trivia by the time high school rolls around. Of course another student could enter high school as a blank slate and learn a great deal pretty quickly, but it would be tough to fully catch up.

Incidentally, do y'all know of anyone in that circumstance? I remember Don Windham and Carol Guthrie (forgive me if I've got the wrong names) having a son (Jake?) who knew all sorts of random stuff when he was 4, like the capital of Burkina Faso. And I remember a girl who used to scorekeep at a lot of Berry tournaments ... she could have been Gordon Carper's granddaughter, I don't know, but she clearly knew a fair number of the answers. Anyway, does anyone know of any quizbowlers who began preparation (in some form) for quizbowl at a very early age?
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Post by Red-necked Phalarope » Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:14 am

The closest analogy that comes to mind is of the Polgar sisters (Judit Polgar and two others whose names escape me), who were taught chess extensively from a very early age and now rank among the top 10 female chess players in the world. Judit may still be #1, actually; I haven't kept up much with chess recently.

Anyway, clearly there would seem to be some justification in this example for doing the same for quizbowl. The point, though, as Sara implied and others approached, is that anything but a gentle push in quizbowl's direction may not be that great of an idea.

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Post by NoahMinkCHS » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:41 am

Personal example: My elementary school (K-6) had a quizbowl program for 5th and 6th graders, coached by our gifted teacher, who sometimes brought out the buzzers in class, even for the younger kids. From about third grade, she evidently thought I would be good at it, and encouraged me to keep learning random facts so that I would be even better. (And of course, learning for learning's sake, etc. -- but it was good to have another reason!)

In 5th grade, I finally got to play and it was awesome. I was actually good at it, and we won the county championship over the defending champs (led by a really talented girl who had probably similarly been encouraged from an earlier age). My 6th grade year, we lost to her school (led then by her brother) and another school in town that also featured a star player.

Those of you who remember my high school team may not be surprised to find out that the siblings ended up playing alongside me for three and four years, respectively, on three varsity state title teams that competed well at nationals. All of us, as well as the boy from the other school, were at one point or another named to high school All-State teams as well. While none of us were super-phenom wunderkinds or anything... I do think we would not have become the players we were without that early pushing. The questions may be harder, and the format may vary, but the desire to learn and to win make it much easier to want to work. I think early elementary school is a great time to introduce quiz bowl to smart kids.

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Post by rchschem » Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:16 am

I'm reading my 3-year-old "Babar's Art Museum" and the Olivia books. She gets the commentary tracks complete with artist, title, and interesting tidbits about the work. She also listens to the "Baby Einstein" pieces and knows the tunes, if not yet the titles.

Never too young for QB.

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Post by First Chairman » Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:11 am

As long as we're not talking prenatal quizzing...
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Post by Strongside » Tue Aug 08, 2006 3:38 pm

Unlike aforementioned activities like chess, tennis, and golf, quiz bowl usually isn't something that you can really compete in until middle school or high school. It would tough to tell how good someone is at quiz bowl until they play. In something like chess, you can compete against other players to test your progress at a young age. You could drill a young kid with facts and make him learn and memorize stuff but until he/she actually played quiz bowl it would be tough to judge how well they knew the information and how they would fare in competition.
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Post by J C Bennett » Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:08 am

In 2006, Kentucky had over 10,000 4th and 5th graders representing 510 Elementary schools taking part in Governor's Cup. Our quiz bowl competition is only one of eight events, however; about 4000 or so took part in Quick Recall.

They play under the same rules as the middle and high school levels, but with fewer questions, shorter matches and a bit longer time to buzz in on tossup questions.

For many of these students, this is the first time they have represented their school in a competition of any kind. The competition is frequently very intense, which I can verify after watching my daughter take part two years ago. Crying after a match is not uncommon, but every time I have ever seen it the adults did a good job of trying to make the loss a lesson rather than a tragedy.

On the opposite end of the parental behavior spectrum, which I have also seen, is the parent who just cannot fathom that their son or daughter may not actually be the smartest kid in the universe. On a baseball diamond or football field, the whole world can see whether or not Jordan can catch a 20-yard post pass, or whether or not Alex can hit a free throw. In academic competition, however (particularly the written assessment competitions in our event), student "talent" is not as evident to the casual observer. Therefore, to some parents any unsatisfactory outcome must be the result of some compromising of rules or procedures.

Adults are the key. As long as parents and coaches avoid what I call the "Little League Syndrome", and keep a proper perspective on winning and losing, quiz bowl can be a great thing for even 10- and 11-year olds.

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Post by Tegan » Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:40 pm

J C Bennett wrote:As long as parents and coaches avoid what I call the "Little League Syndrome", and keep a proper perspective on winning and losing, quiz bowl can be a great thing for even 10- and 11-year olds.
I suppose one could also call it "Spelling Bee Syndrome" .... intense parents with the "win or don't come home attitude" are hardly isolated to sports.

At the elementary level, it would seem when a larger percentage of the education is facts (vs. the higher level problem solving and thinking that is supposed to be taught at the high school level), that a competition like this would be even more closely related with what goes on with the curriculum (which is just to say: I don't see why this game would be any worse than playing kickball .... except that the kids who get picked first on kickball might get picked last for this!)

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Post by First Chairman » Wed Aug 09, 2006 1:38 pm

In terms of reducing anxiety, getting younger children acclimated to the "quiz bowl" process may be good later on. On the other hand, that would be like training 5- and 6-year-olds for the SAT's... maybe dumbed down significantly to their level.

I have little objection to getting middle school kids or even older elementary school kids involved with quiz show-like formats as long as it is "internal" and not some weird freak show.
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Post by quizbowllee » Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:09 pm

My wife and I are expecting a child in about 8 months... So, I kind of wonder what effect my coaching will have on him (or her). Knowledge is important to me, and I'll start teaching my kid early on - whether he or she uses that knowledge to play quiz bowl will be up to them. I hope that he/she will want to play, but I'm not going to force it.

I do know, though, that my kid(s) will grow up around the game. I figure that will either make them love the game or make them hate it.

I know some of you coaches out there have had your own kids on your teams before. What effect (if any) did being the "coach's kid" have on them? Did any of you have kids who didn't want to play?
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Post by Matthew D » Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:52 pm

Don't know I will tell you after this year with Meghan but I do know that she has been exposed to quite a bit of the material during tournaments.

And on a personal note, Congrats Lee... didn't tell the other day when we were talking...
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Post by quizbowllee » Wed Aug 09, 2006 3:04 pm

Matthew D wrote:Don't know I will tell you after this year with Meghan but I do know that she has been exposed to quite a bit of the material during tournaments.

And on a personal note, Congrats Lee... didn't tell the other day when we were talking...
Just found out late Saturday night...
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Post by fancynancy » Wed Aug 09, 2006 3:58 pm

I think it's ridiculous and a waste of time to push a child into seriously preparing for quiz bowl at such a young age, but I think any good parent should try to help their child be as well-read as possible for their age. My parents always provided plenty of books and trips to the libary and museums and were always available to talk or read with. I'm more indebted to that than anything else for my success in academics and quiz bowl.

I think making a small child memorize lists of information to prepare for a high school extracuricular competition is a silly idea. A well-read kid is probably going to be interested in quiz bowl later and should have no problem learning to direct their studies for it when the time comes because they love to learn. Being well-read has advantages far beyond quiz bowl, and I'd take a kid who wants to know more all the time over a kid who just knows stuff because someone has mad him memorize it.

Quiz bowl is only a game. I love it, it's great fun, and should be taken seriously, but for goodness sakes, we'd be taking it a little too far to have some little kid strictly train for it from preschool.
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Post by First Chairman » Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:59 pm

I'll certainly agree with Nancy that a lot of good quiz bowl players tend to have a great love of reading, whether it's fiction/literary works or history and non-fiction.

I'd also say a great appreciation for classical music and art would be very valuable.... not necessarily for the purposes of memorizing who did what (because those are indeed important), but certainly understanding the aesthetics of those art forms.
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Post by Tegan » Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:56 pm

fancynancy wrote: I think making a small child memorize lists of information to prepare for a high school extracuricular competition is a silly idea. <sic>

Quiz bowl is only a game. I love it, it's great fun, and should be taken seriously, but for goodness sakes, we'd be taking it a little too far to have some little kid strictly train for it from preschool.
I would never advocate "forcing" a youngster to do anything ...... even when a young kid might consider music .... you shouldn't necessarily "force" them to practice. I agree taht not only is forcing just plain unhelathy, but it also likely adds to resentment in later years.

I also wouldn't advocate it strictly as a "let's get them ready for high school". I would only advocate it as an activity that students did if they actually enjoyed it. The same is true at the high school level. I've had students who were above average at playing and hated it. I talked with their parents and with them and suggested that they might want to look elsewhere, as there is no point to doing this if it isn't fun on some level.

I thought about it last night, and wondered if starting this at a younger age might help defeat some of the stereotypes that exist with the activity. As some kids reach that age, they are turned off by the activity because it is "for geeks" ...... even if they might be good at it, or might even really enjoy it.

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