The central premise of this book is deceptively simple: no one is average. Not you. Not your kids. Not your coworkers, or your students, or your spouse. This isn’t empty encouragement or hollow sloganeering. This is a scientific fact with enormous practical consequences that you cannot afford to ignore.
The hardest part of learning something new is not embracing new ideas, but letting go of old ones. The goal of this book is to liberate you, once and for all, from the tyranny of the average.
Schools around the country adopted the “Gary Plan,” named after the industrialized Indiana city where it originated: students were divided into groups by age (not by performance, interest, or aptitude) and these groups of students rotated through different classes, each lasting a standardized period of time. School bells were introduced to emulate factory bells, in order to mentally prepare children for their future careers.30
The science of the individual instead instructs scientists to analyze, then aggregate: First, look for patterns within each individual. Then, look for ways to combine these individual patterns into collective insight.
When Esther Thelen studied the individuality of each baby, she arrived at an explanation that had eluded generations of averagarian researchers who had informed parents that there might be something wrong with their infant’s brain when the real cause of their concerns was their infant’s