My Problem With Averages

06 Sep

Opening up a school has been a dream of mine for as long I can remember…well at least going back to 6th grade. Every year since I began envisioning the perfect educational model, my views on what constitutes model education evolved.

In 6th grade more vacation was my primal focus. I later started railing against uniforms. I matured a bit, and vowed to get interesting teachers, who knew their subject like their own child. I swore not to play politics or money. Most recently I’ve been advocating a school for the average child.

Of course, I could never promote my school on that platform; no one would enroll. Nobody is going to publically admit that they believe themselves to be mediocre. Actually, I don’t think anyone would consider themselves a candidate for my school, but they would surely know plenty other wonderfully average people that would make terrific students for my establishment.

Nobody truly believes that s/he are average. Every person imagines s/he have some redeeming quality or talent that puts him/herself the above the line, but somebody, or actually most people, have to be among the average. It’s just basic statistics.

As a high school teacher for the past 5 years, employed in three different (very different)schools, I have witnessed one common link between them all. They love to recycle, and I don’t mean going green. When it comes to any positions, privileges, committees, jobs, whatever term there is – the schools always referred to a small pool of students. Those students who exhibited that X factor (or their father’s checkbook) early on, earned themselves the spot of go-to girl.

These girls throughout their high school careers have ample opportunity to develop coveted skills for life: leadership, delegation, organization, brainstorming, creativity, self expression, confidence, just to name a few. They get to be on top of the totem pole, ahead of the pack, the prized few. The other girls have two options, follow them or despise them.

Yes, I know, that a success in high school does not equal success in life, but giving opportunities, safe risks, a place to try and fail without drastic consequence is a high school’s obligation. And our schools are falling very short of this goal. The Jewish High Schools rule extra curricular like a dictatorship, who’s in who’s out, who’s on top, is all by their say so, even the G.O. “elections” aren’t safe – who do you think selected the candidates. Extra curricular should be run by students and supervised by adults. Kids give each other more chances than any adult ever would.

Going back to success outside school, how many people do you know who “blossomed” after graduating high school. Suddenly they “came into themselves”. People see them as the capable talented adults that they are – and very often ALWAYS were. They were simply never given a chance to show the world who they were, because the adults in the world were too busy with the same tried and true students.

So that’s who my current school is for, the child who deserves the chance, deserves an opportunity, deserves someone to say, “I believe you can”, but won’t receive it, because they have the unfortunate lot of being “average”.

Anyone want to back this venture?


Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Teaching


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “My Problem With Averages

  1. Dassi

    September 6, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    I can’t agree with you more!!!!! I don’t mean to snotty, but I can’t say that I don’t enjoy seeing many of the g.o., chessed, bla bla bla girls all working as primary assistants making less than minimum wage!!!!

  2. Princess Lea

    September 7, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I also feel that education has to be reworked. The problem is that the school is only willing to recognize a certain type and praise them, leaving others by the wayside. I am surprised how I am different now than from high school, as well as many of my classmates.

    But many schools start also with the mantra, “We will be different! We will cherish and encourage every child!” but end up becoming PC and boxers (by boxing students).

    Could it be possible to maintain? To not give in to demands?

  3. rubik2

    September 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I disagree–nobody is average. They all have those “redeeming” qualities or talents that they believe themselves to have that make them extraordinary. If you mean average academically, or average in singing or dancing or coloring-in-the-lines ability, that’s different. But you can’t talk about an “average” person. There’s just no such thing.

  4. unravelmythoughts

    September 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    As a homeschooled high school senior, I totally agree with your points regarding the school system catering to the “elite few”.
    I notice this not just in regard to extra-curricular activities, but in all aspects of school. Being homeschooled allows me to see that no system is one-size-fits-all.
    Public, private and homeschools each have their pros and cons, like everything in life. Maybe in this dream school of yours, you can REALLY cater to every person’s needs, by understanding, accepting, and giving each child equal opportunities. Good luck!
    PS I really like your blog!

  5. TooYoungToTeach

    September 8, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Rubiks, you’re right to a degree, to find a person that is truly average in every snse of the statistical meaning, would be very diffiuclt. People are people, we all have something that makes us just a wee bit different from the next. But there is an average concept, and there, although, I don’t think anyone would voluntarily admit to beingpart of it, other people put them there. My school would be about taking these “average” people and giving them the same oppurtunities “better” people have.

    PL: Yes, there are a lot of schools that start off with, reach every child. Personally, I think it’s usually just a nice sounding slogan that they play lip service to, do they really believe every child can on top?

    UMT: Thanks, approval is always nice 🙂

  6. The Professor

    September 16, 2011 at 2:13 am

    The most enlightening piece i have seen on education in a while is Albert Nock’s ‘The disadvantages of being educated’. It summed up the system perfectly, and gave all the ways to correct it.


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