Nerds, Geeks, Try-Hards, Teacher’s-Pets... Australians have a lot of words to disparage those who strive to achieve.
The tall-poppy analogy makes it clear; the ones that stand out are the easiest to pick ... on.
Whether through reluctance to be different, or a fear of failing after giving all of their effort, many people shy away from doing the very best that they can. This is a cultural problem. Australians may not always give it their all, particularly for intellectual endeavours.
This is the best sort of problem to have.
I occasionally volunteer at Science and Engineering Challenges, where high-school students design and build solutions to engineering problems as teams, competing against other schools in regions around Australia. Occasionally I’ll meet a group of students who are clearly intelligent, but under-performing in an attempt to seem nonchalant and cool. With only the tiniest persuasion, the students can always be roused into furious effort to ensure their school wins, and their efforts are recognised among their peers.
Australia needs to recognise, as these students do, that Science is a team sport. And a sport Australia can win, if we try.
Innovation and Science Australia’s ‘Australia 2030’ plan identified cultural ambition as one target to improve Australia’s future prosperity, and suggests ‘national missions’ as the means to achieve it: bold, inspiring, projects to improve Australia’s standing in the world.
Their suggested missions may well have been pulled straight from Science Party policy; making Australia the healthiest country on Earth, building a high-tech city of the future, and high-speed rail; their vision of the future is what we already had planned.
Our relaxed attitude means that we have lots of room for improvement. If we can change Australians’ mindsets we can achieve more of our potential, and gain a more prosperous country.
I hope those students who changed their mind and gave it their best continue to grow to be the tallest poppies, making room for others to make their own efforts, so we can all grow higher together.
About the Author:
Aaron Hammond is an engineer driven by curiosity and a belief in innovation and knowledge. He has been endorsed by the Science Party and nominated for the federal by-election for Perth, running on an platform to bring consistency and sensibility back to politics.
 Science and Engineering Challenge
 Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation
 Federal Policy - Science Party