In the 1950s, the Air Force hire Lt. Gilbert S. Daniels to figure out the size of the average pilot. The Air Force was having issues with pilots dying in plane accidents, and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Lt. Daniels measured 4,063 pilots on 10 physical dimensions (height, chest circumference, etc.) and set up an average being the middle 30 per cent of the range of values for each dimension. For example, the height of the average pilot was between 5′ 7″ and 5′ 11″. Next he compared the 4,063 pilots with the average pilot.
Before he crunched his numbers, the consensus among his fellow air force researchers was that the vast majority of pilots would be within the average range on most dimensions. After all, these pilots had already been pre-selected because they appeared to be average sized. (If you were, say, six foot seven, you would never have been recruited in the first place.) The scientists also expected that a sizable number of pilots would be within the average range on all 10 dimensions. But even Daniels was stunned when he tabulated the actual number.
Fascinating story from The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness($). I always like ideas that go against the grain (probably a little ADHD in me), but this idea is important on a different level. Too often in our classroom we look at the averages. The average grade, the average score on standardized tests. But, how often are our students truly average?
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