To Be or Not to Be, Average in Life!!

Here is a process:

I get an idea for a blog,

I churn it over in my mind,

I research to add value to my thinking,

I make a mind map,

Then, I write, edit, rewrite.

Make hubby read if I am pleased with my writing or even when it seems to be going nowhere.

After I am satisfied, I email it as an attachment to my manager who is the son and Cc to DIL.

They read and once in a while make a suggestion especially if I am being insensitive. When I feel strongly about something I can use words that may not be politically correct.

Son posts it on Medium and FB.

This process happens once every two weeks, on Sundays. There was however a delay when I wrote the blog on a conversation between the common flu and the coronavirus.

I got a call from my son on the Sunday the blog should have been posted.

For the first time, he said, ‘You are saying what people already know. The article starts out well and then……’ he added, ‘I will still post it, if you want me to.

Tail between my legs, I meekly said that I will give it a relook. I rewrote the latter half and typed it out with difficulty. That was the day; I had a tremor in my hands which was an after effect of covid.

I sent it to son quite late at night. The next day (Monday), he said, ‘let’s post this on the weekend’. Without saying anything, the message was clear that it was still not good enough. It was at best, an average piece and I was capable of more.

There were a couple of lessons I learnt from the episode -

Firstly, always keep your target audience in mind for they are worthy of your best.

Secondly, one has to be open to criticism, however much it hurts, for only then can there be growth.

Son did post the blog that weekend. Considering the responses, views and reads, I believe his opinion and perception was right.

Let me go back to the ‘Average Piece’, and share a poem that I have often used in my workshops for teachers and parents, most often as an introduction to a session on Multiple Intelligences.

The Average Child, by Mike Buscemi

I don’t cause teachers trouble;

My grades have been okay.

I listen in my classes.

I’m in school every day.

My teachers think I’m average;

My parents think so too.

I wish I didn’t know that, though;

There’s lots I’d like to do.

I’d like to build a rocket;

I read a book on how.

Or start a stamp collection…..

But no use trying now.

“’Cause, since I found I’m average;

I’m smart enough you see

To know there’s nothing special

I should expect of me.”

“I’m part of that majority,

That hump part of the bell,

Who spends his life unnoticed

In an average kind of hell.”

Everytime, I read the poem, I feel sad.

Did it do the same to you?

Did you see yourself in the poem?

The poem also raises a number of questions for teachers and parents to think about.

How do we determine that a child is average? What parameters do we use? Is it only about marks and percentages? What about areas where they do not get marks?

Before, I create a muddle — let’s find a thread between my story and the child in the poem.

I had written something that was average and was being given a nudge that I could do better. There was proof of that in a number of my earlier blogs.

This response from a good friend for my earlier blogs sums it up — ‘Inspirational blogs, sometimes funny, sometimes serious, thought provoking and makes us search our conscience’

In the poem the child does not like being called average as it has created limits to what he would like to do with his life.

Is there a contradiction between my story and the average child? I don’t think so!!

One was a nudge to rise above average.

The poem depicts despondency and acceptance of the label and has transferred the feeling to all activities and walks of life. The child is almost wishing for that gentle nudge or push to dare to dream and have the courage to fulfil the dreams.

There is an interesting concept in the last verse of the poem which says, “I’m part of that majority, that hump part of the bell.”

The poet is talking about the ‘bell curve’ or the curve of ‘Normal probability’

This curve describes the distribution of values (numbers) for many natural phenomena like our heights, marks or even IQ scores.

The ‘Bell Curve’ opens up self-doubts and questions.

If I am average in Mathematics — does that mean I am average in Public speaking?

This is an error of thinking and can lead to complacency and probably a low self-esteem.

Also, if the majority of us fall into the hump part of average where are we going to find the above average or excellent?

Parents look for an excellent school for their children.

Parents also want their children in a particular section because they have heard of ‘X’ being an excellent teacher.

Will we settle for an average doctor / surgeon? No, we would want to be in the best hands.

What about builders of houses, bridges and skyscrapers?

What about the lawyer who litigates for me?

What about the field of aviation — whether it is the pilot or the aeronautical engineer who built the plane?

What about the humble bus driver?

I can go on in this tone, enumerating many more in many other areas where I cannot and will not settle for ‘average’.

But if the Bell curve is a fact, then so is the reality of most students being average, most teachers being average, most professionals being average.

So, it is fine and okay to be average isn’t it? There should be no shame or guilt in it!

“Except, of course, there is. What is troubling is not just being average but settling for it. Everyone knows that averageness is, for most of us, our fate. And in certain matters — looks, money, tennis — we would do well to accept this. But in your surgeon, your child’s paediatrician, your police department, your local high school? When the stakes are our lives and the lives of our children, we want no one to settle for average.” — Atul Gavande in his book ‘Better

I could not have expressed it better!

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Phyllis Farias

Educational Consultant with 2 passions in life: the Child — from toddler to adolescent, and Education — education philosophy and psychology