Average Isn’t

Hello, My Name is Average
Hello, My Name is Average

Let me tell you a little something about average. Say you have 100 of something, for the sake of argument let’s say we have 100 figs. Why? Because I like figs and they aren’t as common as apples and oranges. So we have 100 figs. Chances are, out of 100, you can say 25 are rotten to bad. Then you can say 25 are overripe, or too sweet for much other than preserves or dehydrating. Which is still preserving the fig, but in a totally different way than spreadable preserves. That leaves us with 50 figs that are average. Good for eating now. Yummy, fresh, moist, delicious figs. That’s your average. 

average

I realize average doesn’t break down exactly that way, but work with me here. 

My kids grew up hearing me tell their aunt and uncle that C’s Get Degrees. And they do! C’s are average. If you work as hard as you can, and the best you can do is a C, well, I’m ok with that. That means you are on par with the rest of your group. It means you aren’t the worst, and you aren’t the best, but you can get the job done. In most cases, that’s acceptable. 

C’s are only not ok if you barely put forth an effort and skirt by. I mean, if you barely make an effort and get a C, imagine what you can do if you make an effort! That sounds like an easy A my friend! Top of the heap! Head of the class! Pass go and collect 200$!

I’ve ranted a lot about gifted children, and not gifted children, and common core, and education in general. I’ve ranted about disliking labels and putting my kids in boxes. Something new occurred to me only recently. What occurred to me is, I am much more complacent about C’s in the advanced and gifted and otherwise “above current grade level” classes than I would be in a standard “at grade level” class. Why? Because being average in with a bunch of smarty pants kids means you’re still a smarty pants and still above the national average. Being average in an average class means you aren’t. By my figuring, being average in an average class actually puts you below average in the long run. Nothing wrong with being average if you try your hardest and that’s where you land. One of my kids has a C in a standard Spanish class. He doesn’t have a head for language, tries his best, and he just needs to scrape by with a C this year to get his second credit that qualifies his diploma for college. Now, if he thinks bringing a C home in Language Arts is ok, he has another thing coming. Maybe I’m not so above labels as I’d like to think I am, if words like average and gifted and advanced still make me feel the way they make me feel, but what would a rainbow be without words to describe it?

So… average. Everyone wants more than average. If you do an average amount of work, you may get passed over for a promotion. If you only make an average salary for your field, don’t you want more? Sometimes an average portion of dessert just isn’t enough (and on the flip-side, sometimes it’s just too much!). I’m quite a few inches less than the national average for a woman. I wish I were at least average in that area! Average, as a descriptor, and what else could it ever be?, makes me so angry. Maybe I’m no better than average. Average in school (my grades, overall, certainly averaged). Average as a wife, as a mother, as a sister, as a daughter. Average at my job. Average in my thoughts. Who knows, you know? I’d like to think I’m above average in most of those areas. Everyone excels somewhere. But few people excel everywhere. Maybe that’s where average comes in?

 At the end of the day, average-average infuriates me, but average-above average works just fine for me. Stay in the upper 50% my friends, hell, stay in the upper 75%. Because being average in the top half is much more impressive than being average in the bottom half. Put in that little bit of extra effort. Somewhere along the line the right person is going to see it and it’s going to pay off. 

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