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The End of Average!? Disrupting the green of education!

Welcome to Five Moore Minutes! Helpful videos in five minutes or less, that
support the teaching and learning of ALL students! I am your host, Shelley Moore, and today’s
episode is, The End of Average! Today, I have to give a really big shout out
to Todd Rose, because our episode is based on a story that he tells in his book, The
End of Average. Go buy this book! Go read this book! This book totally helped me understand not
only my own tumultuous experience in school, but also my understanding of curriculum as
a teacher. Because what I realized after reading this
book is that the idea of “should” is a direct connection to the concept of “average” and
our ongoing fight against the green! Todd Rose talks about average in the book
and actually mentions it as being a really using concept when comparing large groups
of one dimension. Like for example, if you were comparing the
average height of a Canadian and comparing that to the average height of an American. That’s a great use of average! Big sample size, comparing one dimension. Education, however, isn’t that simple! First of all, we are not comparing groups
to each other! We are comparing individuals to a group. Second, those individuals that we are comparing,
are not one dimensional! People are not just height. Not even paper is one dimensional! To prove this point further, Todd Rose tells
the story about airplanes. In the 1950’s, fighter jet pilots, they weren’t
performing well, and some were even getting injured in their cockpits because they were
getting jousled around a little bit. They weren’t able to reach for the controls
effectively, to help make those split second decisions needed to operate a plane that’s
like flying at like a billion miles an hour! So a very smart airforce researcher went and
found 4000 pilots, and took their measurements. The length of their arms and their legs. The width of their hops and their shoulders. 10 dimensions in total to try and use that
data to design abetter cockpit for the pilots. now in the age of standardization, we could
simply just average these measurements and design the perfectly standardized plane. most people are average right?! well you tell me, how many of those 4000 pilots
do you think would fit into an average plane? just gimme a ballpark! zero. none. nada. not one of those 4000 pilots could fit,
because not one of those 4000 pilots had the exact same combination of all the measurements,
in every dimension. The average plane, was being designed for
a mythical green pilot. Now another solution might be to use those
measurements and design custom made individual planes for every pilot! That would totally work! It might not be the most cost effective option
though. Ok so what do we do?! One individualized plane for every pilot won’t
work. And one standardized plane for all pilots
also isn’t working, is there another option? Well that very smart researcher realized the
solution. It wasn’t the average measurements of the
dimensions that was needed to design the plane, it was the range of dimensions! Because using a range, the planes could become,
adjustable! How many pilots can fit into a plane that
adjustable? Every single one. It’s the reason why we have adjustable seats
in our cars, because you can’t just chop off someone legs if they are too tall! It’s so messy! Ok, now let’s think about this in terms of
curriculum. For years and years and years and years, we
have been struggling with exactly the same problem. We have been trying to fit students into standardized
curricular plane. The error though, is the assumption in both
of these scenarios, is that the plane or the curriculum is static, and that it’s the pilots
or the students that are malleable. But the reality is, is that no one actually
fits. We have designed curriculum for mythical green
students, based on averages of multi dimensional people. Now just like a plane, it’s not cost effective
or efficient to design individualized custom made curriculum for each individual student,
but what we are also realizing, is that it’s also impossible to have one standardized curriculum,
for every individual student. It is quite the dilemma! But what if we approached it in the same way! What if we stopped looking at the average,
and instead stared to look the range of our learners. What are their dimensions? But not in terms of what’s missing, but instead,
what do they bring! What are their stories? What are their histories? Or as my good friend Leyton calls it, their
funds of knowledge. How do we find out and use what our students
bring, in all of their dimensions, and design curriculum that adjustable, just for them. This type fo curriculum would allow all students
to be successful, every single one. But here’s the kicker, and this part, this
really got me. I was thinking about this one day and I was
imagining a pilot crawling into an adjustable plane, and I asked myself, “who is making
these adjustments?” And then it hit me, the pilot! The pilot is making the adjustments! And then when I started thinking about my
own students, and I realized, wait a second?! Who is making the adjustments for them? It wasn’t them, it was me! I was making the adjustments! The teacher! We talk all the time about growth mindset,
student agency, self regulated leaning, and I realized, that this is it! This is what we are talking about! How do we teach students to make the adjustments
that they need, so that they can fly the plane! We have been so focused on trying to get kids
to fit into the plane that we have totally forgotten that fitting into that pl’ane isn’t
even the goal! The goal is to fly it! To fly the plane! Its our job to teach them how to make the
adjustments that they need. Once they figure that out they can take that
plane, wherever they want! So, this, my friends, is our job! How do we design adjustable planes? How do we make curriculum responsive to our
specific group of learners? There could be a billion answers to those
questions, but i’ll leave you with this, what are already doing? How are you already getting to know your learners,
making adjustable curriculum, finding success for every single learner? This is the question i’ll leave you with today,
and then i’ll say, are you ready to see the end of average?

11 Replies to “The End of Average!? Disrupting the green of education!”

  • Love this & especially the emphasis on the idea that we can design the adjustable seat – but that we need to teach the students how to do the adjusting for themselves. We're such loving, caring, good-intentioned people that we default into taking on that burden ourselves when we really should be building capacity in our students. I know I can always use that reminder…. as a teacher, my journey has been about LETTING GO and TRUST.

    I know it works, too. If you Google "CTV Toronto: Technology lounge in school", you'll see a short clip on one of the times I've done this. (I'd link but YouTube would likely flag it as spam.) If you watch the clip, you likely didn't notice student "needs" but instead saw student strengths. I provided options and coaching, but ultimately students set their own goals and pursued them. And yes, this was a tech-focused class but I've also done it in other contexts, all while "innovating inside the box" of what the curriculum and reporting structures require. A lot of our assumptions for how school 'has to be' are just that – assumptions. We, as teachers, have far more agency to make changes than we often think we do. I push the edges more than most are comfortable doing, but I like to dive in – that's just my style. Searching for "Empowered Class" here on YouTube will also turn up a channel my class and I created a few years ago with more examples of this in action.

  • In terms of Self Regulation it's imperative that I teach, model take Data on Self Reg tools and Strategies for each individual student I support. THEN SHOW THEM where they are at and where they could be heading. It's a simple step with huge impact. Well not always that simple but it is simple in it's concept. If students can see their own success, they start to use their self reg tools independently. It's wonderful to watch them develop confidence in their social skills, then their learning and then watch them become an Inclusive part of their classroom and with their peers.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I really love your enthusiasm and message about the importance of learning about our learners so they can learn about themselves! What a powerful message! You are an engaging speaker!

  • how come more people aren't watching these videos ? 'cuz if they were they'd be "liking"….have shared the BC Min of Ed link to your videos to my teaching colleagues again!

  • i loved your how inclusion is like bowling vlog. and now this one is another nugget. I love how you explain and advocate for equity in education for all learners. I am pursuing a masters and need to write a thesis. i i want to address this concept… equity in general education for all learners
    any suggestions

  • Shelley! You're the best. I'm trying to change my aim in my university women and gender studies classrooms and stop thinking about the mythical "average" student.

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