Surpassing success

Surpassing success

Representative image. Credit: iStock.

Ever since schools closed, my colleagues and I have grown accustomed to teaching online. We face problems, however, when we conduct tests and exams. Although we are vigilant, it is hard to check whether someone is surreptitiously consulting notes or a textbook. We urge our students to be honest but, of course, we cannot enforce integrity.

There will always be those who gain marks through unfair means. This stems from a desperate desire to excel. ‘Nothing succeeds like success,’ young people hear and believe. We need to repeatedly remind them that while the quest for glory is not wrong, success must not be purchased at the cost of one’s principles. In fact, even when success is attained in an ethical manner, it is not an end in itself.

Sometime ago, a Grade IV teacher proved that point by playing a video for her class. It portrayed an incident that occurred in December, 2012. At a cross-country event, in Burlada, Spain, Abel Mutai of Kenya was comfortably in the lead, when a strange thing happened. Confused by the signs indicating the distance he still had to cover, Mutai came to a halt about 10 metres short of the finishing line.

Ivan Fernandez Anaya of Spain, who was just behind Mutai, called out to him to keep moving. Ignorant of Spanish, Mutai continued to stand motionless. Anaya could easily have seized his advantage and charged past his rival. Instead, the chivalrous athlete pushed Mutai forward, allowing him to win the race. 

When questioned by incredulous reporters, Anaya said that since Mutai had been way ahead of him, he could not bring himself to deprive the Kenyan of the gold medal he deserved. He added that had he done so, there would have been neither honour not merit in such a victory. 

The response of the children to the climax of the competition was heartening. All of them who had been watching with bated breath hailed Anaya as a hero. He might not have outshone his opponent but he had surpassed success!