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Todd Rose Discusses The Myth of Average at TEDxSonomaCounty (Full Transcript)

So, the real question to me is how do we get these adjustable seats for learning in the hands of every student as fast as possible without spending more money? Here, I actually think the Air Force has given us the formula for success. What if we ban the average in education? We know it destroys talent. Instead, what if we demanded that the companies that sell these materials into our classrooms design them not to the average of dimensions of learning but to the edges? It would be a bold move. It would certainly send a strong signal to the market: the game’s changed.

But trust me, if we do this not only will we increase the performance of the kids in our classrooms today, we will dramatically expand our talent pool. Because right now there are so many students we simply cannot reach because we design on average. Design to the edges and we will reach them and we’ll get their talent. And I have to say I know because I was one of those students.

So, today I’m a faculty member at Harvard. But I’m also a high school drop-out. It gets better. I was a high school drop-out with a 0.9 GPA. For those of you who don’t know that’s pretty bad.

But here’s the thing. I’ve been to the very bottom of our educational system and I’ve been to the very top. And I’m here to tell you we are wasting so much talent at every single level. And the thing is because for every one person like me, there are millions who worked as hard, who had the ability, but who were unable to overcome the drag of an educational environment designed on average. And their talent is forever lost to us.

The thing is we can’t really afford to lose them. The good news is we don’t have to anymore. I’m telling you we have a once in a lifetime chance right now to fundamentally re-imagine the very foundation of our institutions of opportunity like education in ways that nurture the potential of every single individual and therefore expand our talent pool, make us far more competitive in the world. We can do this. We know the formula. And it’s time we demand it.

Thank you.

 

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