At the exam panel meeting two days ago, I learnt that a student-teacher in my fulltime group obtained Distinction in Coursework. This is a remarkable achievement, because only about 3% of all PGDE students will obtain this honour. After the meeting, I emailled the student-teacher immediately to convey the good news to her. I told her that she would be given a special Distinction certificate, which she would personally receive from the Dean during the graduation ceremony. I reminded her to cite this honour in the cover letter when she sent out job applications.
The student-teacher was rapturous on hearing the news. But she replied: ‘Paul, you earlier told me to cite my passing all the LPAT papers at one sitting in the cover letter. Now, you’re telling me to cite my Distinction award, too. Would I look arrogant if I did that?’ My reply to her is: ‘This is the 21st Century. What’s wrong with telling people your achievements if you have earned them through hard work?’
Yesterday, my colleague Professor Icy Lee, casually remarked over lunch that she had just been informed of her obtaining the University’s Research Excellence Award. She was of course very happy about that, but at the same time, she wouldn’t want to spread the news. She didn’t want people to think that she was not humble enough.
I need to go back to the Analect to check, but if I remember correctly, as early as two thousand years ago, Confucious repeatedly urged us to be humble about ourselves and our achievements, as though ‘modesty is the best policy’. But that was two thousand years ago.
Yes, there are braggarts in any circle, but bragging and publicising one’s achievements are not the same thing. There will always be people with a sour-grapes mentality, who dislike us for making our achievements known to the world. But we need not bother about their feelings. As long as we have made an achievement through hard work, we have every right to tell others about it. In fact, our true friends, and those who value exellence in work, will appreciate our spreading the word.
So, I told Icy that she doesn’t need to have any qualms about letting other people know that she has got the Research Excellence Award, which is conferred on less than eight scholars among the entire academic staff at CUHK. In fact, she would be shortchanging her friends if she kept the news to herself.
To practise what I preach, I have just told my friends on Facebook that the book co-authored by Dr Benjamin Au Yeung and me will come out soon. Many of my FB friends have ‘liked’ that announcement. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I am sure that they have truly welcomed the news.