After Centuries of Sameness, We're Finally Seeing The End of 'Average'

The Takeaway

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It all starts at a young age: Being measured by how much we conform to other people’s notions of what is "normal." Developmental milestones for babies, standardized tests, GPAs, IQ and credit scores measure us against averages, but do they tell us anything truly significant about individuals? Does a so-called "average" person exist?

In his new book, “The End of Average – How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness,” Todd Rose makes the case that no one is average. He writes that "our modern conception of the average person is not a mathematical truth but a human invention, created a century and a half ago by two European scientists to solve the social problems of their era.”

Rose argues that since we no longer live in the Industrial Age, the notion of the average man or the average woman isn’t especially helpful anymore.

Rose is the director of the Mind, Brain and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where he heads up the Laboratory for the Science of the Individual.

He has personally excelled well past what might have been considered his "below average" potential—he was once a high school dropout with a 0.9 GPA and a minimum wage job. Rose talks to The Takeaway about why he hopes to provoke a national conversation about how we all see ourselves.