All I knew is that I never wanted to be average
If you are average like most people then chances are you’ve spent most of your life being compared to this person named ‘Average’. At school and at work you get that grade of ‘below average’ or ‘above average’. That begs the question of, who exactly is this average person? Why am I being graded with this person?
It began in the 19th century. It was useful at the time to use a system of averages for measuring astronomical characteristics like charting a planet’s movements. Since planets were so far away it was difficult to get an accurate measurement. A bunch of observers would measure the planets distance and the average of these measurements would give you an accurate calculation.
It wasn’t until astronomer Adolphe Quetelet used this concept of averages to explain human traits. He attempted to find the ‘Average Man’ by measuring thousands of people both physically and psychologically. However, although this approach may be useful for mathematical and scientific concepts like astronomy it falls short in its usefulness when it comes to humans.
The Problem with Average
The main reason for this is because humans are just way too unique. There are simply way too many variables and everybody has different characteristics than what is considered average. You simply cannot say that just because a person has failed at math tests in the past it means this person is bad at math. You cannot say that if a person fails an SAT or some other standardized test then they are somehow unintelligent. In fact, drawing these false conclusions and getting a child to believe these false conclusions will make the child only do worse on future exams.
An experiment was conducted by Benjamin Bloom in the 1980s and it showed that there is no relationship between the speed of learning and knowledge retention. This study showed that both slow and fast learners were both equally knowledgeable about any subject.
The main point is that comparing yourself to anyone other than yourself will only cause you to draw misguided conclusions. The truth is you are not below average, you are not above average and you are certainly not average. You are just you. There is no statistical data drawn from comparing a human to another human. It is comparing apples to oranges.
There is no Right Way
There is no ‘right way’ to do things only your way. Scientists thought that a child’s development from crawling to reading had to be learned through a strict series of stages and if the child learned to crawl a little late, or learned to read a little late it meant some sort of developmental disorder. After extensive testing psychologist Kurt Fishcer discovered that at least 30% of children follow a different path than the ‘standard’ one. Yet, even these children’s skills have developed normally.
So what if you really are bad at a skill? You try and try again and you study but you still fail. At this point it is time to embrace your individualism. As I’ve said before we are all unique and some of us will naturally gravitate towards certain things while others will gravitate towards other things. This is not to say that you cannot do something nor does it mean you will never be good as the ‘average’ just because your personality doesn’t resonate with it, it just means that it might take longer for you.
As a society we need to embrace this fact. In school we are measured by GPA or SAT scores. Colleges give us these general courses degree programs instead of focusing on one subject a student wants to study. By focusing on one or two subjects that students want to learn about degree programs will be much shorter and students will get better grades because they are interested in that specific subject.
As a society we need to stop labeling people as ‘intelligent’ or ‘unintelligent’ based on a number. Instead we should look more for specific skill sets instead of looking for an ‘intelligent’ person. As an individual we should realize that there is no ‘one path’ to anything. Just because you were bad at math in the past does not mean you are below average at math your whole life. We are all individuals and we need to find our own individual skills that we are good at, focus on it and embrace it.
Have a great day!
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