We all want our children to be better than average. We even want them to be better than average in everything they do. But this is just not possible.
“Average” is a big piece of the pie and it’s very likely our kids are in that big slice.
“Average” is a statistical concept. It means that a person’s score or result – however that’s measured – is within one ‘standard deviation’ from the mean – from the number that is the actual average.
It’s as if the actual average were the center line of a two-lane roadway. All the pavement that runs on either side of that center line is within the average range. The shoulders that run on the outer edges of the two lanes are the parts that are above and below “average.” Most cars stay in a lane. Only a few cars are on the shoulder. And as long as your car is in a lane – going in one direction or the other – your car is “average.”
So if your child’s test scores are “average” then he’s traveling in the lane, along with almost all the other kids.
So it is with anything your child might be measured in: height, weight, IQ, dancing ability, or Pac man scores. Two-thirds – two-thirds – of all the scores are in the average range. Most people are average. The one-third of all the scores that are not within the average range are equally divided between the two edges. One-sixth of the scores are above average. One-sixth of the scores are below average. That’s just the way it is. This is what being “average” means.
So it’s very likely that we all are pretty average. And if the population changes – if all children get smarter, for example – then the average changes with it. Being average is not a bad thing. It’s the way the world is.
If your child is “average” – if she is “performing well within the normal range” – then be happy. Good things happen to average people. They do well in business and politics, they become engineers and writers, they love and are loved. Most of the people you know, most of the people you meet are average.
The only time average is a problem is when a parent or grandparent or busybody neighbor puts pressure on a child to be more than average. Average is fine but anxiety is never fine.
Don’t mess up your fine, average kid by trying to steer her onto the shoulder.
© 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.