The Myth of Average

I am reading Todd Rose’s book, The End of Average, where he posits that when we develop assumptions or generate conclusions based on what is considered average, and that all outside assumptions and conditions are variants of the average, we are ruling out everything individual or different. The average boils down to ONE measurement, not a range of measurements. In study after study, Rose explains that when we compare anything to the average, it is an inaccurate and false comparison. Individuality is ignored and left only to be acknowledged as an understatement. Folks have focused so much on the average that individuality became less and less important. Remember when teachers, myself included, in the classroom would say they were “color blind” for cultural inclusion and that everyone was important? Perceived by some, this idea meant that the students were “melted” together and no individuality existed. We were blind to see anything other than that. However, someone made the statement that if you are blind, you do not even notice or recognize differences in your classroom. If you are blind, you are basing this blindness off of some average that exists in your mind in which you have to compartmentalize differences because they are anything but average. This begs the question: when did average become the new norm? If we are blind to our students individual differences, are we also blind to their learning differences?

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