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.

Change Can Be Difficult in Education – Well, We Need to Get Over That!

Full disclosure … I like predictability.

Predictability doesn’t equal Innovation

I like knowing that certain things have order and certain outcomes will occur. My science training conditioned me to make order out of disorder — to put things into virtual ‘buckets’ of similarities. I am conditioned to align characteristics and form inter-relationships between things.   Once something is in a bucket I prefer that it stays there and doesn’t move.

Predictability brings me comfort.

Predictability = Security

Life is All About the Grey … But Does That Apply to Character?

As I get older I see more grey.  Ya, ya, ya … the hair jokes .. I get it.  Nice!

What I’m talking about are my observations that we don’t live in a binary world of ‘Yes or No’ , ‘Black or White’.  We just don’t typically live in “All or Nothing” scenarios.  Our world is a series of sliding position points along a continuum.   It isn’t static, measured once and labeled.  It is a complex, multi-dimensional, constantly evolving space.

Need proof?  OK.  Some examples that are right off the top of my head include:

  • musical ability.jpg

    Practice MAY make perfect

    Musical ability

  • Physical aptitude in sports
  • Cooking prowess
  • Home repair abilities
  • Computer use
  • Essay writing

The point being, we have some ability or knowledge in lots of areas — some are just more developed than others.  And in many cases increased practice results in improvement.

So our world is a patchwork of grey!  Different shades of ‘greyness’ which indicate our varying abilities.

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