Génies en Herbe

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Génies en Herbe

Post by cchiego »

I have recently learned that there are a number of thriving quizbowl communities around the Francophone world competing under the general title of Génies en Herbe. Not only are there a number of well-produced, seemingly enthusiastically received national TV shows that have used that title, but there seem to be many national, local, and intramural quiz competitions as well.

Although some of these appear to have added other non-quizbowl aspects like crossword puzzles, dance competitions, or speech and debate, most seem to include a significant portion of the core quizbowl experience of teams of 4 students using buzzer systems to answer questions on various topics. From what I could find in terms of videos on YouTube and Facebook, many of the questions are on African geography, history, and current events along with some math (usually mathcomp) and science questions, with some religious school competitions adding in Catholic history and such (I saw a recent Congolese competition with a question on Father Damien). Most of these are speedcheck questions ("In what country would you find...Darfur?" was one from a Senegalese TV show), though at least one competition from Burundi that I heard had multi-sentence questions that sounded somewhat pyramidal. There are also a number of schools who appear to be regular "powerhouses" and repeatedly do well in these competitions such as Prytanée militaire de Saint-Louis in Senegal and Collège Saint-Joseph in the DRC.

I would be very interested in information on:
- The International GeH Competitions that took place from 1986 through 1998. Who organized them and how were the questions and such decided upon? (See here for a list of champions and participants from those competitions)
- Anyone who's been a part of these competitions and is familiar with how they are organized, how the questions are written, etc.
- The status or history of any competitions still ongoing in France and/or Belgium, since those seem to be defunct (I could find very little information on GeH France in particular; is there another quizbowl-ish competition there?)

I suspect that at least a few of the schools who regularly compete in GeH would also have English-language instruction and might be able to play on English-language questions, though I can't tell from looking at the websites. It might also be interesting to see if any American, Canadian, or British quizbowl players with strong French skills might be able to write some pyramidal French language questions. At some point I may try to reach out to these schools using my (questionable) French writing skills and would love to have more details or information beforehand.
Chris C.
Past: UGA/UCSD/Penn
Posts: 437
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:29 pm
Location: Conshohocken, PA

Re: Génies en Herbe

Post by alexdz »

Hmm.... this seems like something I could probably help with. The school I teach at currently is a French/English bilingual international preK-8 school, and we're a member of the association for such schools in North America (FISNA). I have always wondered if this would be a good network for quizbowl, and this GeH competition sounds like a great way to make inroads. The advantage to working with North American French-language schools is that, since students are usually multi-lingual at these schools, they might be more likely to attend other local tournaments in English as well. [EDIT: As my middle school teams did this year, attending 3 online tournaments in the spring.]

Mon français n'est pas super, but I'd be happy to help draft communication or even some short pyramidal questions en français -- let me know! [EDIT: One of more of my kids who competed might even be willing to give a statement or something in French if that would be helpful.]
Alex Dzurick
Owner/Editor, SAGES Quizbowl Questions
Coach, French International School of Philadelphia
Former midwesterner (South Callaway - Mizzou - UIUC) coping with life on the east coast.
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