What better way to reach the top of the class than be taught by possibly the smartest person in Canada.
Vincent Massey Collegiate science teacher Dr. Marshall Carroll is one of four contestants set to appear on an ambitious new CBC television special called Canada’s Smartest Person, which will air on CBC on Sun., March 18 at 8 p.m.
Marshall, who has a PhD in theoretical quantum chemistry, will battle it out with Hamilton Tiger Cats offensive lineman Peter Dyskowski, student and gamer Laura Suen and spoken word poet Greg Frankson for the prestigious title.
Produced by Media Headquarters in association with CBC and hosted by comedian Gerry Dee, the show is based on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and will see the contestants undertake a series of fun and spectacular challenges aimed at testing six areas of Gardner’s theory.
Carroll, who is also a singer-songwriter and a stand-up comedian, said if the recent 17-hour taping session in Toronto is anything to go by, the broadcast should be an entertaining two hours for viewers.
Although sworn to secrecy, the Tuxedo resident said the challenges were great.
"You’re going to see some pretty wild stuff happening," Carroll said.
He said the contestants didn’t know about most of the challenges until just before taping, and production staff spent the weekend shepherding them around the studio so the challenges stayed a surprise.
Carroll, 49, said by the end of the marathon taping session, he felt totally exhausted.
"I’ve defended my PhD, got married, had three kids and gone to job interviews and not felt such pressure. Combine the stress, the bright lights, the studio audience . . . and after a while, new levels of reserves come out."
Carroll said he enjoyed meeting Dee — a former teacher — and noted the contrast between the contestants should provide some good drama.
"We started out as total strangers and became good friends," he said. "We’re going to stay in touch. If Peter Dyskowski comes to Winnipeg, he wants to go to the Wagon Wheel for a club sandwich."
Back in the classroom, two of Carroll’s students said he is an inspirational teacher.
"You can tell he’s excited about teaching. He’s really an entertaining person in class. He really knows what he’s talking about," Haley Boswick said.
"It’s pretty special to know someone that smart is teaching us. He’s a pretty smart guy, so I’m proud to know he’s up there," Leigh Horncastle added.
On the night, viewers can play along with the challenges at cbc.ca/smartestperson.