Forgecraft Coaching

Life, leadership, and tech skills coaching for young people looking to forge their own path

Schools Are for Average People

Do you know what happens when you design something for an average person? As the US Air Force discovered the hard way, when you design your plane cockpits around an average pilot, you’ve actually designed it to fit no one.

In 1950, the Air Force undertook an initiative to rethink the specifications for the cockpits in their airplanes. To build up these specs, they collected a ton of data by taking more than 100 measurements of thousands of pilots, and used averages to inform the placement & dimensions of everything from the width of the seats to the distance between switches on the control panels. Once planes with these new cockpits started hitting the skies though, things didn’t go so well. Accidents & pilot errors went through the roof, and nobody seemed to know why.

Eventually, someone had a thought - what if there was no average pilot? He went back to the data, figured out what a truly "average" pilot would look like, and compared that to the original measurements of the pilots. Turns out, not a single pilot was anywhere near average when looking at as few as 10 of the 140 measurements that were collected. This was a big turning point, and the Air Force made a major shift in their thinking. Rather than fitting the individual to the system, the military began fitting the system to the individual. Cockpit components were refitted to be adjustable as much as was practical, and the numbers of accidents dropped back down to pre-redesign levels.

So what happens to our young people that go to schools that are designed for average students? Think about it - everything from the curriculum to the furniture to the way we assess learning is designed around an average, standardized student.

So, when your not-so-average student goes to school, are they learning to get the most out of what makes them unique, or are they learning how to fit in to a system that wasn’t designed for them?

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