I Forget Stuff – I Must Be Brilliant

Do you ever stand up to go somewhere, walk over and then wonder why you’re there? Happens to me all the time — wait, that doesn’t sound very reassuring. It happens to me some times.

My solution?

Often walking back to where I came from to trigger the thought that made me leave in the first place.

Doesn’t really leave one with a strong feeling of confidence in my abilities now, does it?

But, if you’re being honest with yourself I bet it happens to you as well.

What is it about our memory that makes some stuff ‘stick’ and other stuff appear to vanish? Looking back to my 20s I can still recall studying for university exams … reading a section of a text book … then reading it again … and again … all to no avail. That page of information just wasn’t going to stay in my head.

But why?

The Average Student Doesn’t Exist

Temperatures Around the World – A Good Use of Average

Comparing average temperatures from around the world is useful if you want to compare this single attribute. It works because you are comparing a single entity across a large sample size.

The Average Student is a Myth

However, if you want to compare a particular student’s achievement against an average student, this is NOT very useful. Most importantly because of the complexity that makes up success. And because of this complexity, I argue that there really is no ‘average student’. Take a look at the chart to the right as an example. Comparing a single measure like knowledge or reading doesn’t take into account the entire learning profile. Each student is unique — each one with strengths and challenges.

The complex world of learning can’t be quantified by a simple average. There are think-tanks and critics who are quick to jump to a single measure to find a story that says we’re not succeeding or using a measure to compare one school against another. They use singular events like a one time FSA score or a provincial exam grade to compare students or schools against each other to make an argument about our educational demise.

Averages just don’t work that way.

We’re Doing Some Great Things in Public Education

I speak and write a LOT about the need for change in public education — necessary change because we haven’t yet met every child’s potential. That might be an unreachable target, but it doesn’t mean we should give up trying to be better than we are today.

I’m not naive to the notion that my desire for change might leave a perception of ‘doom and gloom’ about public education — that we aren’t doing anything correct at the moment.

And that’s simply not true.

I am proud of many things that we are currently doing in our schools, primarily due to the efforts from our teachers and administrators — true innovators in our system.