I remember a defining moment in my journey towards becoming a teacher. It was when my year 8 teacher taught me about tall poppy syndrome. For those who may not be acquainted with it, it is the Australian tendency to cut down those who are successful and those who stand out from the crowd.
While it has not been the sole driving force in my subsequent career, I thought I’d never forgotten about it… until last week.
I am privileged to work with a woman who is great at celebrating success. She herself is brilliant at what she does, but that does not get in the way of her encouraging greatness in others. Ironically, or maybe fittingly, she accredits much of it to her American heritage.
Working with her has often made me reflect on my own competitive nature and desire to be the tall poppy, even if it means cutting others down. In a sudden tragic moment of realization, I saw that I had not, first, eradicated tall poppy syndrome in myself.
I have not failed as a teacher; I don’t for a second believe that, but until I am free from the syndrome myself, I will have little chance of changing the world for others.