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.
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.
Music surrounded me in childhood. My parents encouraged me to include music as part of my educational experience. I took piano lessons; played a band instrument in elementary, junior high and high school; even participated in the chorus of a high school musical (Fiddler on the Roof). In university I had a part-time job teaching in a community marching band.
I found music relaxing — finding that it somehow satisfied an area within me that wasn’t been addressed through my academic studies. I felt calmer when I listened to music, played music or taught music — a different area of my brain was being exercised. And like our sense of smell that has been proven to have an incredibly powerful linkage to our emotions, when I became involved with music I somehow felt better.
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.
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.