I remember that day as though it were yesterday. That`s what almost every writer would say, but I don`t remember that day as though it were yesterday. I`d be lying if I said that I do. I can say, however, that I can remember almost everything that happened that day.
It was a Thursday afternoon in June and we`d just finished a lecture on e-Commerce, one of the most interesting courses that I`ve ever had to offer in school. The lecturer happened to be my Level Adviser (the lecturer who is dedicated to a particular level to guide, advise and assist students throughout their stay in school). After the lecture, he began calling out some of my classmates by name to see him in his office after the class. Now, he was calling the names from a list on his laptop and skipped some names at his first attempt to call these students. He wasn`t calling everyone on the list, just a select few – a special elite set of people. And so he had to call them at least three times to be sure that he didn`t miss anybody`s name.
When he was calling out the students for the first time, my Assistant Class Representative, Nafisah, asked softly behind me, “Maduka, what list is he calling?” I paid attention to what he was saying and listened to the names carefully.
I smiled at her as I answered her question, “He`s calling out the gurus.” That was after she`d heard her own name. Nafisah, being who she is, replied with a laugh and replied, “Abeg o. You guys are the gurus.”
Now, the results for the previous semester came out a few days before and, while the Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of a few of us experienced a positive move, many others dropped, myself inclusive. So, the students who were called out were the best students of the class. We call them “4-pointers”, students whose CGPA are above 4.0 on a scale of 5.0. At that time, five of these guys were above 4.50, the first class mark. Now, only three can boast of that achievement. Well, to be quite honest, everyone`s fingers are crossed as we await our last semester results. Who knows? Maybe they`ll increase. It`s my honest prayer that they do.
So, my Level Adviser called out the best. They were the smart, intelligent and serious students. I mean, they knew while they came to school and they pursued their dreams of graduating well, whatever that means these days. He met with them later that afternoon and gave them some serious, well-meaning fatherly advice. No caring teacher would want to see their students fail. I know that because I`ve been a teacher before and I still consider myself a teacher. I find the profession totally amazing.
But what about the few who were below the 4.0 mark? Were they the dull, unintelligent and unserious students? Did they not know why they came into school? I mean, were they simply wasting their parents` money as they spent every extra day on campus? They couldn`t stand with those at the top in that office that day. Wanna know why? Because society tells us that those on top are the best. Others are simply not worthy to stand on the same platform with the best.
I remember when I taught in a secondary school sometime in 2014. I`d stepped into class one day and had asked for the best students. So, the class told me the top 10 students in their class that day (I later did this in all three classes that I taught). Did it change anything? Oh yes, it did. I couldn`t forget their names. I mean, who forgets the names of the best students? Why didn`t your secondary school teacher recognize you or remember your name the other day on the street? Because you were not the best. I assure you that no teacher will forget you if you had won a state competition and beaten other big schools or if you had always topped the class year after year (except, of course, the teacher is getting old and has difficulties remembering past events).
I couldn`t forget their names and I couldn`t help but be preferential in my treatment toward them. Let`s say I come into class and ask a question.
“What`s the ecosystem?”
I give five students the chance to answer and analyse their answers. It`ll be hard to tell my best student that she`s wrong! Wanna know what I`ll say?
“Ermmm.. you almost hit the nail on the head, but you aren`t quite there.”
What if the unserious student answers? I`ll find it easier to tell him blatantly, “You`re wrong.”
And even when I mark the exam scripts, a smile will come to my face the moment I begin to mark her script. I`ll be more lenient and more understanding. I`ll try my best to understand everything she wrote with her ineligible writing. I`ll go over her sums again in a bid to ensure that I don`t miss anything and underscore her.
And so society tells us how to treat people. The best deserve the best. And what happens to the average guy? He`ll have to get whatever comes. How do you define the word best? We`ve been told that best is what beats every other thing. So, we have ideal jobs and ideal spouses in our heads. We hold certain people in high esteem compared to others. Some people simply don`t deserve our respect.
But I`ve found this to be untrue. The best aren`t always at the top. And because someone doesn`t measure up to your scale in a particular field doesn`t make him useless and unserious. I know that the best student in my class can`t sing as well as I do or play the keyboard as well I do. If we step into that field, he ceases to be the best. And I can`t ball as he balls. I refuse to let any man make me feel inferior simply because I don`t measure up to his standard. I know that I`m the best, regardless of what you tell me. I am simply the best.
Take time out sometime to think about all that you can do that nobody else can do. You`ll discover that you are better than you think and that you deserve more credit for what you can do. The best is not always at the top! Don`t ever forget that.