When did being average become a bad thing? It seems in every aspect of our society people are looking upon average as a lack of success. We seem to be living in a world of extremes. You are obese or do military style training, you are wealthy or poor, vegan or junk food lover – what happened to the middle? So many people talk about finding a balance, yet they don’t want to be average. Perhaps it is how we perceive the word.
The funny thing about average is that it’s constantly changing. Look at how much the average cost of living has changed. The same is true for athletics and academics. Personally, I learned to read in first grade which was average at the time. Now, the average first grader is reading chapter books and learning the building blocks of algebra. What used to be unheard of in athletics is now average thanks to different physical training and more advanced equipment. As we continue to grow as a society our average keeps changing.
As a parent, I often reflect on my own memories and experiences. Like everyone, we try to emulate parts of our childhood and maybe tweak other parts. I was a good student and took advanced classes all the way through school. I will never forget the look on my Advanced Placement Physics teacher when he saw that I would be majoring in dance. Having a name at the end of the alphabet, he had read eighteen engineering or pre-med majors and literally stopped in his tracks at dance. He questioned my reasoning for taking his class. My answer was simply that I liked math and science and it was the next logical step. As you might imagine, I never used those great physics skills.
As a dance major, I didn’t need high level math for my gen ed so I took a relatively basic math class. It was in this class that we calculated mortgage and credit card interest. Yes, I had learned these skills early on in math class, but frankly knowing how to compound interest for a mortgage doesn’t mean anything to an eighth grader. I could make the argument that the lower level math class in college was more beneficial than the AP physics in high school for the life that I lead.
Would I change taking advanced classes? Absolutely not, but I don’t think they define me as a person. I am sure they have helped with my daily reasoning skills, but my friends who didn’t take advanced classes are leading wonderful lives. Somewhere along the way, we all met at average and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My goal for my children is to set them up to succeed. For now, that means letting them try a variety of activities and seeing which ones they enjoy. Down the road they will have to make decisions about which ones they want to pursue and I am sure their individual talents will play a role. Most importantly, I hope that they lead a happy life – even if it is average!