Are you above average? Is your child an A student? Is your employee an introvert or an extrovert? Every day we are measured against the yardstick of averages, judged according to how closely we come to it or how far we deviate from it.
The assumption that metrics comparing us to an average—like GPAs, personality test results, and performance review ratings—reveal something meaningful about our potential is so ingrained in our consciousness that we don’t even question it. That assumption, says Harvard’s Todd Rose, is spectacularly—and scientifically—wrong.
In The End of Average, Rose, a rising star in the new field of the science of the individual shows that no one is average. Not you. Not your kids. Not your employees. This isn’t hollow sloganeering—it’s a mathematical fact with enormous practical consequences. But while we know people learn and develop in distinctive ways, these unique patterns of behaviors are lost in our schools and businesses which have been designed around the mythical “average person.” This average-size-fits-all model ignores our differences and fails at recognizing talent. It’s time to change it.
Weaving science, history, and his personal experiences as a high school dropout, Rose offers a powerful alternative to understanding individuals through averages: the three principles of individuality. The jaggedness principle (talent is always jagged), the context principle (traits are a myth), and the pathways principle (we all walk the road less traveled) help us understand our true uniqueness—and that of others—and how to take full advantage of individuality to gain an edge in life.
Read this powerful manifesto in the ranks of Drive, Quiet, and Mindset—and you won’t see averages or talent in the same way again.
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About the Author
Todd Rose is the director of the Mind, Brain, and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where he leads the Laboratory for the Science of the Individual. He is also the cofounder of The Center for Individual Opportunity, a non-profit organization that promotes the principles of individuality in work, school, and society. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Look-Alike Competition 1
Part I The Age of Average
1 The Invention of the Average 19
2 How Our World Became Standardized 39
3 Overthrowing the Average 59
Part II The Principles of Individuality
4 Talent Is Always Jagged 77
5 Traits Are a Myth 99
6 We All Walk the Road Less Traveled 123
Part III The Age of Individuals
7 When Businesses Commit to Individuality 147
8 Replacing the Average in Higher Education 165
9 Redefining Opportunity 183
About the Author 247