To put things in context, the Dean’s List (in RI) is a list of students who did exceptionally well in the cohort for the major exam split by subject and arranged in order of merit. It serves to recognise and acknowledge these exemplary students for their hard work and good achievements in the school semester.
This recognition of sorts for jobs well done isn’t new: we have had prize presentations and certificates of achievement, shaking of hands and announcements-making. But I think we should take sometime to reflect on how we feel about the Dean’s List and what we want to make out of this list of students. Personally, for me, this list comes with a lot of scrutiny, reflection and of thought.
First, there is respect- as students, they say, that our ‘job’ is to study hard and do well, so I suppose in some senses the Dean’s List stands for how hard they have worked to maximise their learning capabilities and proven themselves exemplary according to what the institution hopes for us as guided by the syllabus and assessment criteria. So to these peers, I feel a mix of respect and inspiration (Congratulations and keep it up guys!); hoping that in the terms that continue to pass, I will also exemplify positive and enthusiastic learning attitudes that help me advance in my pursuit of knowledge. Though, I’m not saying that the measurable success for me, or for all of us, should be about getting into that list. I’m saying, that while the list can be an encouragement or inspiration of sorts, it doesn’t have to be the determining factor of ‘success’.
These students, in time to come, will possibly be under much scrutiny- for their attitudes, learning behaviors and basically every aspect of how they carry themselves as students. I imagine that subconsciously these Dean’s Listers, being held at high regard by the presence of the list, will also be respected by many others for their achievements. But here’s where the more important part comes- the inspiration of not just them having achieved these grades but their process. I imagine that their process will be seen as forms of role modelling, people going “Wow he’s a Dean’s Lister, must be like him to get on the list also” And the way I see it, at this juncture, these role models hold an important stake in the culture of our school. If every Dean’s Lister is achievement-oriented, obsessed about filling only their minds and not their hearts; or if every one of these students turns out to be disrespectful and have terrible personalities, I wonder what would become of our cohort. Here, I really am painting an exaggerated picture in an attempt to show what I imagine of their power of influence. I may be wrong.
Another thing the Dean’s List made me think about, was my priorities– the things that I value and treasure, some more than others, and the measurable goals I would like to work for. The thoughts that crossed my mind included my CCAs, external community service, my engagement in the arts, all on a backdrop of myself as not just a student, but as a daughter and an influencing stakeholder in these communities that I am a part of. Being a student in today’s age is more difficult than ever- because of the amount of roles we have to play and the different expectations that we get from different masses of people. And while we recognise people who have done well in grades, the more admirable part, to me, would be the way they have achieved those grades with good moderation against the backdrop of fulfilling the other roles and priorities they have set for themselves well. This, we only know about, when we are honest with ourselves.
So here’s what this one list has made me think about, and I continue to wish we gave simple forms of recognition of other things like science competitions or debate competitions that get a 5-minute (or less) time slot in assembly, the same amount of attention we give this list, to acknowledge these other things that have been accomplished and the other roles our peers have fulfilled well. During the Promethean Ceremony, the acts of leadership and powerful traits of bravery that were displayed were shared and commended- to me, these are things that also deserve as high regard as the list, this is the Dean’s List for what our peers have filled their hearts with.
And it is this ability to understand what one really wants to get from one’s everyday and exemplifying it through a kind character of goodwill, truly inspiring the community around them, that I’d truly respect about any peer, or any Dean’s Lister for that matter.