The End of Average, part 1

Recently I finished reading The End of Average by Todd Rose. It was a remarkable read that has me thinking about personalized learning, accounting for differences in students, and how we will continue to shift our practices as educators. It’s not very often that a book feels simultaneously familiar and challenging. It’s well worth a read by any educator and does a great job of identifying why education needs to be personalized.

You might be familiar with Rose’s TEDx Talk: The Myth of Average.

Rose describes the 1950 process that led Gilbert Daniels, then a junior researcher US Air Force, to learn that not a single USAF pilot was average in all ten of the physical dimensions thought to impact cockpit design. Every one of the pilots was outside the average range on some dimension.

design a cockpit

The USAF responded to this information by mandating that future planes be designed to the edges of the pilots, accommodating the widest possible range. After their initial reluctance, aerospace manufacturers responded by developing the adjustable cockpits in use today.

In what ways do we have an educational system designed for nobody, and what changes can we make to design it to the edges? Rose has a number of ideas in The End of Average that are worth considering, particularly as we think about what personal learning profiles might look like and how they will impact learning. Over a short series of posts here, I’ll share some of my thoughts in conjunction with the text in the hope of sparking more ideas and conversation. Whether you’ve read the book or not, I hope you’ll join in!


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