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The End of Average: The Science of What Makes Us Different

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,323 ratings  ·  315 reviews

In this ground-breaking book perfect for readers of The Power of Habit and Quiet, Harvard scientist Todd Rose shows how our one-size-fits-all world is actually one-size-fits-none.

Each of us knows we’re different. We’re a little taller or shorter than the average, our salary is a bit higher or lower than the average, and we wonder about who it is that is buying the average-priced home. All around us, we thione-size-fits-none.


Kindle Edition, 261 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by HarperCollins
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It's one of those books where the author totally proved their point in the first couple of chapters. And then had to bulk out the rest of the book.

Would have been a great TED talk.
Brian Clegg
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Averages are very convenient when used correctly, but even when dealing with statistics they can be misleading (when Bill Gates walks into a room of people who have no savings, on average they're all millionaires) - and it gets even worse when we deal with jobs and education. As Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas make clear, hardly anyone is an average person. Whether someone is trying to devise an aircraft cockpit for the 'average' pilot, define the average kind of person to fit a job, or apply education s ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read for any parent or educator. There is no such thing as an average person. And to say that is not just fluffy "be yourself" sort of crap. Rose really breaks down recent research on how kids learn differently, test uniquely, etc. If you want the right employee for a job, you need to consider what the job demands and not use grades and standardized tests. I have found this to be true in my own experiences hiring people, but Rose provides some scientific and business backing for t ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
I bought this book after the speaker at last year's Diocesan curriculum conference lauded it as a "life changing book" that was sure to "revolutionize how you work in the classroom" because it was the best book he had read in 10 years.

Conclusion: he needs to read more.

Seema Singh
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone needs to read this book!
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this for a faculty discussion group at work. I find I agree more with Rose's observations on what isn't working than on his proposed solutions, but it has generated some interesting directions of thinking. I enjoyed ruminating on my jaggedness (too many books, not enough kissing) from the average and thinking about the Gallup StrengthsFinder in the scope of this book. He's not a huge fan of tests like Myers Briggs but then talks about strengths-based job design and degree programs. I'm st ...more
Adam Zabell
Feb 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
tl;dr - individuals are worth more than a single axis of value

The basic premise is that the explosion of data collection in the late 19th century led to the concept of "an average person" which was great for elevating culture out of the pre-industrial age, but hurt the individual because no human being is average. The proposed solution is to embrace that individual on their own terms, using a multi-dimensional match of their mix of skills against the mix of needs from industry. The p
Jenna Iden
As with most books like this, a ten minute TED talk would suffice. But, since we were reading it for a faculty book study, I plugged through the whole thing.

Rose's point is compelling: by trying to adapt to an average person, we essentially make sure no one fits the mold. This has obvious implications for education, with grade-level concerns, questions about age appropriateness, IEP qualifications, and those darn letter grades that are due from teachers next Wednesday at 11 p.m.

However, Rose s
Christopher Richards
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sean Goh
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psych, science
A book which ought to be read by anyone involved in standardised systems: teachers, managers, admissions officers, pretty much everyone. The solutions aren't easy, but they are definitely worth it.
The central premise of this book: No one is average.
If you design a cockpit to fit the average pilot, you've designed it to fit NO ONE.

Averages have their place. If you are comparing groups of people, the average can be useful.
But the moment you need to make a decision
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I get wary of trade books focused around advances in social science, not matter how much they are touted in the trade press. That was my original thought with this book, but I am glad I went ahead and read it.

What initially got my attention was when Rose newer thinking discrediting the importance of social science thinking based around means and standard deviations. For example when one consults studies of larger populations for guidance on hiring particular individuals. What is soug
Shivam Agarwal
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few years back I decided that if I write a book in future, it's title would be "Being Average". And then I find this excellent book by Todd Rose. I wanted to write a book on being average to show the readers that there is nothing wrong in being average in anything or everything. But back then I was thinking about average only through few parameters which I had direct experience in. This book gave a very different outlook on how to understand averages and how the world adopted to Taylorist view ...more
Mike Peleah
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Our one-size-fits-all world is actually one-size-fits-none." The concept of "average" was developed some two hundred years ago and now suffused most areas of our life--education, aptitude tests, jobs, performance reviews. Todd Rose argues that it is time for the science of the individual to come to scene, as it could bring better results. Instead of "aggregate then analyze" we should shift towards "analyze then aggregate" approach. The book resonates quite strongly with a lot of my work and I f ...more
Azat Sultanov
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is one of those books which comes about once in a blue moon and disrupts your traditional perception of the world. Goes into my must-read shelf. All in all average values mislead us into making wrong decisions about people and their behaviour.
Emily S
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Got slightly repetitive but this book was so paradigm-shifting that I agree with the author‘s choice to hit us over the head with the message. Everyone should read this book, particularly new parents. I hope I remember to reread it if I’m ever in that position.
The premise of this book is that no one is average and systems designed around average measurements are doomed to fail.

Averages can be useful when comparing two groups of people, but they are useless when comparing individuals.  In fact, they can be worse than useless because they create the illusion of knowledge.

The first part of the book tells the story of how averages were used in physics to reduce measurement error and the concept was carried over to measuring people.
Sean Gill
Rose succeeds at making his work accessible - no easy feat considering he's dealing with statistics and many interdisciplinary strains of thought. I appreciate that he challenges assumptions about the concept of "average" as representing normalcy, and his explanations of how faith in averages underpin much of the way society was or is organized. I hadn't really thought too much about that considering how natural taking the average of something feels. I certainly agree that organizations that all ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a people manager, I have always been perplexed at an employee's disappointment with a Meets Expectations rating. But when applied to our social standard of average, and the way culture perceives it, I could see the rationale because the employee is thinking he or she is merely average, or has a "C" rating, given they are not above expectations or below it. Rose's book tells how average evolved, why we have standards, why we all commonly buy into the ideals of 'type' and 'rank.' We live with t ...more
Chungsoon Haw
A great book that helped me discover so many problems of using societal comparisons. Most importantly, it gave me a newfound appreciation of everyone's uniqueness and how to take advantage of the current system to find talented individuals.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who wants to find their own way may find this book invaluable. Anyone who has a child who struggles to be "normal" will find this book irreplaceable.
Hmmm .. I remember writing a prolonged review to this one, what actually happened here?
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and compelling premise until the final chapter about making college focused solely on career prep. Not for this liberal arts believer!
Lance Eaton
Rose undermines a deep assumption of the modern world; the primacy of average. He illustrates that throughout society, we use the average as a litmus test for judging all things, even though no singular person ever meets all the criteria of the average. After unpacking where the concept of the average came from and how it came to dominate our society, he then questions the usefulness of it in a variety of situations. He flips the idea of trying to get everyone to adhere to the average and asks w ...more
Veronica Erb
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
All of our knowledge—and our ways of knowing—come from somewhere. The End of Average provides a short history of the origin of averages applied to humans. I found it fascinating Rose traced averages back to an aspiring astronomer whose hopes for an observatory were dashed by human rebellion.

The book conveys this history, a set of guidelines for instead catering to each individual, and examples of businesses and schools that have, in specific ways, chosen measurements and approaches other th
Atul Sabnis
There have been many strides and movement in changing how we learn, how education is delivered, and most of us are on board - the history and the conceptual background to it all, is what Rose's book is about. Rose makes a compelling case to move away from one-dimensional thinking, essentialist thinking, and normative thinking to focus on and recognise the potential of the individual.

While there is much talk of personalised learning, micro-credentialing, and competency-based learning,
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The End of Average is a very fascinating book. Todd Rose gives a brief history of how the world became obsessed with the "average" of everything and explains why it is not good to look at averages of anything. He argues first that no one is average and in all things the individual needs to be considered. He provides examples of how around the mid-20th century, military pilots kept crashing. Turns out the cockpits were designed around the "average man." Someone finally came along and got permissi ...more
Tjen Wellens
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kat Jensen
It has some interesting concepts and ideas and worth the read, but I feel it lacks explanations on how to best implement the ideas. So this book is a good starting point in changing the way we view success and how to work towards it, but it needs a companion book or a sequel on how to best implement the concepts in a education setting.
April Suter
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Some repetitive statements but good "think about it" moments. How do we compare students...and is it fair? Wish there was an easy answer. I think I can try to reach each student I have in my classroom and individually met their own educational needs, but is that even fair? Does the world mold around each person that is in it?
Sandeep Sampang
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Opens your eyes to the flaws of how the modern world ignores one's individuality in academic/work/social life by judging every individual's qualities/potential to an average marker, and fixing this by redefining our culture to understand those complex qualities like intelligence can't be assessed in a one-dimensional scale using average.
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Todd Rose is the cofounder and president of The Center for Individual Opportunity, and a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His work is focused on the science of the individual and its implications for advancing self-knowledge, developing talent, and improving our institutions of opportunity. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“The hardest part of learning something new is not embracing new ideas, but letting go of old ones.” 12 likes
“Most of us know intuitively that a score on a personality test, a rank on a standardized assessment, a grade point average, or a rating on a performance review doesn’t reflect your, or your child’s, or your students’, or your employees’ abilities. Yet the concept of average as a yardstick for measuring individuals has been so thoroughly ingrained in our minds that we rarely question it seriously.” 3 likes
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