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.
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.
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:
Practice MAY make perfect
Physical aptitude in sports
Home repair abilities
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.