There is this fascinating book – The end of average by Todd Ross that resonates with our tendency to question why what is right or best is usually associated with a specific pre-agreed standard/norm. The book encourages you to look at yourself in your own image and not that of others or what is deemed the average trait for a group of humans
According to Todd, from the cradle to the grave, human beings are measured against an average metric. Let us use the example of a school – where kids are tested and rated as intelligent or maybe not, according to the average on a given testing instrument scale. The latter, more likely a diktat of assessment gurus.
Kids are assessed and rated to: get into kindergarten, primary school, secondary school and finally, universities and colleges. You all may have sat entrance tests, including university entrance tests like America’s SAT.
But by accepting and believing in assessment and being rated against a certain average, have you acquiesced to the norm that you are merely the average of the sum of human beings? And that if you are average or above, you are sure to be certified effective post the assessment process
Sadly – the world has forced on you the culture and practice of “averageness.” Individual assessments at school only make sense to humans when rated against an average – job psychometric tests ‘only’ make sense when measured against a particular standard determined by psychometric assessment tools copyright holders – you marry your man or woman having rated them against what society accepts as ideal – you determine fashion at a point in time based on what the average has defined and labeled trendy – you also decide what is a healthy body and mind, based on averages derived in hospital labs over many decades.
What isn’t average in this world?
Well – will you continue to be rated against an average of all the other things, human or not? Are you a numbers thing? We want to make the assumption in this blog that you are a human being, created with a certain uniqueness – equivalent to a unique ID, that makes you be you
When you abandon your beliefs and innate human configuration (in body, soul, and spirit), you lose the trueness-of-self; you act like someone else; you do things not your way but other people’s ways.
And when you do things because that is what is generally accepted out and about, and not what you are programmed to do, you end up pretty ineffective and miserable in life. The world has forced ineffectiveness on many of you, by placing you in the wrong boxes. Let us be more specific here:
◦ As proud Ugandans, we are interested in everything Ugandan – so, it’s not surprising that last week, we, in spirit, connected with the pain parents in Uganda suffered, upon learning the 2018 primary leaving examination (PLE) results of their sons and daughter. Apparently, the grades attained by the kids aren’t good enough by Ugandan standards; you can only ask what defines good academics in Uganda and the world? Is it high grades at the final primary exams or any other school stage?
It’s apparent that Uganda’s daughters and sons didn’t conform to the principle of average, in regards to exam scores history in Uganda – i.e. that on average, children that attend elite schools in Kampala attain Grade A at the PLE and a high-end grade A at that. Anything outside this norm, average if you like, is odd and unacceptable. The PLE results saga has led parents and school management at some of the elite schools, to consider court action to force the Uganda national examinations board (UNEB) to adjust results to align with the norm – read average. Interesting stuff.
Affected Ugandan parents may just want to accept that these lovely kids are true to self and that each and every child has a unique imprint, that can’t always be manipulated to match the average exam grades trend in Uganda. They are simply kids as well as individuals with unique abilities. Let us facilitate kids to tap into their unique talents and skills and not fit into an ‘average norm’ that you have come to accept as the baseline for being good or best
◦ Isn’t the above also true in non-school environments? For example, at work and in your churches and other places where you socialize. Like in school, to be certified good or best in society or at work, you have to conform to certain predefined norms. What has been determined good/best by your industry analysts and trendsetters? Industry practices have formed over many years of practice and are taken to be the golden benchmark. But, but, what about you asking your bosses and associates to allow you to be what you want to be – of course being careful not to inconvenience neighbours, simply because you want to be you
According to Todd, you should stop subjecting human beings to artificial ideals of normalcy and accept that each human being is unique. Yes, you may force students, workers, and associates to conform to the norm; but that isn’t what makes them happy and therefore productive. They are simply doing stuff for you and not themselves
You should turn to individually ‘tailored’ standards of what is right – the norm won’t be the standard, but the practice of accepting individuality
How do you get others to respect your individuality? Is it easy to be who you choose to be? See you next week