From the Head of School
What if I told you that an Oxford Academy education is akin to flying a fighter jet? What would you think? Well believe it or not, the comparison is not as far-fetched as you might think.
Many of you may have heard of Todd Rose who is a well-known Harvard professor. Back in 2013 he published a Tedx video on The Myth of Average. In the presentation, Rose talks about an issue that the Air Force was having in the 1950’s with its pilots and jets, and how the fit of the cockpit clearly determines success, or failure. The Air Force was trying to standardize one cockpit for all its pilots. For years they designed cockpits around an “average” body measurement. But thanks to an Air Force researcher, Gilbert Daniels, they found out that striving for average isn’t always the best strategy. In fact, out of 4000 pilots studied, absolutely ZERO of them met all the desired metrics. And in a bold move, they did away with using average measurements and began looking at adjustable equipment, much to the chagrin of the established producers of Air Force jets. But the Air Force would not accept anything less and guess what happened? The impossible became possible. Once the cockpit design became more individualized, it opened up the field of pilot candidates to more body types, meaning more kinds of people could be successful at flying. An entire industry changed, and as a result, the Air Force now possesses an incredible talent pool of pilots, ironically many of whom would not have been selected previously.
Rose then goes on to make an intriguing comparison to the established education system, how teaching to the average destroys talent, along with some particularly frightening drop-out rates, and how the system needs to change if we want our children to find success. He proposes designing materials that, much like the Air Force, teach to the edges and allow for more individualization. But I would argue that even this isn’t enough.
Back when Oxford was founded in 1906, Dr. Joseph Weidberg came to the same conclusion as Rose and the Air Force, but took it further when he designed a school based on the Socratic Method, and rooted our entire educational philosophy in designing curriculum around the learner rather than the other way around. True Learner Centered Education. In other words, design EACH cockpit for the individual.
What Rose doesn’t know is that this change is already here, and it has been here for over one hundred years. His Ted Talk and the data within absolutely reinforce why an Oxford education is unlike anything else in the world and why we are forward-thinking leaders in education.
That is why I shared this video with you today and why comparing a fighter jet to an Oxford education isn’t as crazy as perhaps you initially thought.
The Oxford Academy - leading the charge against average. See you in the sky!