Bestism and Can Openers

As you enter 2022, I’d like you to stop trying to be the best.

There’s way too much of what I call bestism in the world and I’d like its eradication to begin with you and I.

So, if you agree not to strive to be the best teacher or the best school, then I’ll agree for Real Schools not to be the world’s best education business.

There are three things I dislike about bestism:

  1. Bestism encourages exaggeration and lies. When your friend posts that her/his “Mum is the best in the world” on her birthday, s/he is quite literally saying that she’s better than every single one of the other billions of Mums in the world.  Is she really that good?  Really?
  2. Bestism encourages competition. There’s a part of me that reads the post and says “Yeah right, she’s not as good as my Mum.”  And somehow, I’m now pitting two Mums against each other in a cage match in my mind.    Why?
  3. Bestism creates too many losers. If your Mum is the best, then should every other Mum feel she’s not up to scratch and needs somehow to try harder or do more?  Flatly, she doesn’t, and this is the very root of the insidious notion of “mummy guilt”.

Bestism is bad for Mums but is equally corrosive for educators.  Your school doesn’t need to be the best, it just needs to be a wonderful place for its stakeholders to thrive.

You don’t need to be the best school leader or teacher, either.  You don’t need awards, platitudes, to be named in a list of influencers or to be fawned over in social media posts.  And even if you are the actual best, just imagine how crumby you’re making your colleagues while you hold that mantle.

So, what then, is the opposite of bestism?  What does it mean to do good without the need for standing atop a podium.  I’d contend it’s usefulness.

I think Real Schools can be really useful to our Partner Schools in 2022.  I really do.

I think I can be personally useful to my team and my family.  I really do.

I’m basically aiming to be a human can opener.  Nobody brags about having the best can opener.  But geez you need one and you miss it if it goes missing.

Dependable, useful, valuable – that’s better than best.

Happy New Year!

Keep fighting that good fight,

PS. In the new tradition of usefulness, we’re launching two new apps for educators in 2022 that I think will be mega useful. We’re launching both the Real Schools App and the Kokoda Schools Project App on January 21st at a free online event. I really hope you’ll register here and come along.

PPS. If the above resonates with you and you indulged in my family’s favourite Christmas movie “Elf” over Christmas, then this clip about how silly bestism really is will make a lot of sense to you.


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