The worst educational design is the one made for the average | Portsmouth High School

The worst educational design is the one made for the average

Todd Rose’s TEDx talk focusses on the problem of aiming for average. In 1952 the American Airforce was losing fighter jets because they were designed for people of average physical characteristics such as height. They changed the design of planes to be adaptable to meet the size variety of people and lost less aeroplanes.

If this is translated into schools the worst educational design is the one made for the average. This suits quite literally no one. There is not one student who is average across the board and if the curriculum is geared towards the middle then it will hold back the pupils who are talented possibly in one area but not in another. It will also be unhelpful for those who require extra support.

This is reflected in the way we teach mathematics in the senior school. Text books can be a limiter to progress as they contain problems aimed at average difficulty. If other sources of examples are used which allows pupils to try problems of increasing hardness it leads to a rise in confidence. For those unaware GCSE and  A Level mathematics has changed in that content is “fatter” and requires a deeper level of understanding. Our method for teaching this subject prepares our pupils well for this increase in material and level.

As a school we have never been average in our approach. We are able to adapt the curriculum to suit best our pupils and give them confidence. It serves no one well to create a one size fits all approach. Girls’ schools are fortunate as they able to select styles of learning that suit girls and their level of maturity. It means that in the classroom teachers may take calculated risks to introduce a variety of study methods. It is the celebration of girls not the absence of boys that makes PHS so special.