The following paragraphs are taken from an article by The Toronto Star, When U.S. air force discovered the flaw of averages. I do not feel the need to elaborate on the takeaway from this article as its connection to my efforts to promote an educational shift toward creating a self-directed learning environment will be apparent. All I will say is that it is not my intention to solve every individual problem in the education system - it is my intention to present a solution to an overwhelming systemic problem and know that the solutions to its unique set of individual problems will become the celebrated accomplishments of the many involved in that system's reform.
From the article:
"Back in 1926, when the army was designing its first-ever cockpit, engineers had measured the physical dimensions of hundreds of male pilots (the possibility of female pilots was never a serious consideration), and used this data to standardize the dimensions of the cockpit. For the next three decades, the size and shape of the seat, the distance to the pedals and stick, the height of the windshield, even the shape of the flight helmets were all built to conform to the average dimensions of a 1926 pilot.
Rather than suggesting that people should strive harder to conform to an artificial ideal of normality, Daniels’ analysis led him to a counterintuitive conclusion that serves as the cornerstone of this book: any system designed around the average person is doomed to fail.
"any system designed around the average person is doomed to fail."
By discarding the average as their reference standard, the air force initiated a quantum leap in its design philosophy, centred on a new guiding principle: individual fit. Rather than fitting the individual to the system, the military began fitting the system to the individual. In short order, the air force demanded that all cockpits needed to fit pilots whose measurements fell within the 5-per-cent to 95-per-cent range on each dimension. When airplane manufacturers first heard this new mandate, they balked, insisting it would be too expensive and take years to solve the relevant engineering problems.
"When airplane manufacturers first heard this new mandate, they balked, insisting it would be too expensive and take years to solve the relevant engineering problems."
But the military refused to budge, and then — to everyone’s surprise — aeronautical engineers rather quickly came up with solutions that were both cheap and easy to implement. They designed adjustable seats, technology now standard in all automobiles. They created adjustable foot pedals. They developed adjustable helmet straps and flight suits.
Once these and other design solutions were put into place, pilot performance soared, and the U.S. air force became the most dominant air force on the planet. Soon, every branch of the American military published guides decreeing that equipment should fit a wide range of body sizes, instead of standardized around the average."