The Law of Averages

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have been the teacher of…DaVinci, Darwin, Edison, Curie, Einstein…Jobs. You’ve likely heard some of the stories. Some of their teachers thought they weren’t very bright at all, others were incredibly intense about their studies while some “dropped out” for various reasons only to find their way later in life. Would I have recognized their potential? The law of averages tells me that a student like that might pass the average teacher one in one thousand times and according to history, may not show up “looking” like we expected.
I recently took a refresher course in psychometrics and was reminded that all of our testing is designed to find the average, a nice normal curve that can show us where we are in relationship to the average. The accuracy of any test begins to fall apart the further we stray from average as there are fewer “non-average” people that you can be compared to. And since the “average” contains the largest number of people (68%) we tend to focus on what they need so we can “help or sell to” the largest number of people. (One of the reasons I can never find a nice pair of size 11W women’s dress shoes!)
Things get further complicated in my world (where we try to find and support students who fall in the 2-3% at the far right of the curve) by the idea that most people just want to fit in.
The annual spring screening is right around the corner…while I love spring, screening always leaves me with a million questions as I wonder about all the things that tests aren’t able to tell me. As usual I turn to things like Ted Talks to get some other perspectives. I would like to share one of my favorite Ted Talks with Shawn Anchor’s perspective on the Law of Averages.


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