Today there was a student who first shocked me and then made me proud, just in the space of 10 minutes.
It was no great crime she committed, this open, friendly and responsible girl for whom I have always felt affection and respect, but it was an infraction of examination etiquette that had to be addressed.
Once the invigilator instructs you to stop writing, you must do so immediately. It is a serious offence not to because it gives you extra time that the other candidates, who follow the instruction, do not have. This is a rule that is adhered to very strictly in any exam context.
So this candidate continued writing for a few seconds, and I had to report her. What was it that made me proud? Her courage, and her honesty. I know of many other people who would have loudly argued that it was a mistake, they didn’t mean to, it was just a sentence. But not this girl. Bravely, she admitted her mistake. And that is why I respect her. I am now going to repeat to you the advice I gave her while we were walking to the office after the exam.
We all make mistakes. Those who do not make any mistakes are not risking enough, and therefore will never learn anything. What makes or breaks us is not the mistakes themselves. Rather, the defining moments of our lives hinge on how we face the consequences of our errors. If we can admit our mistake, accept the consequences, and then move on, never making that particular mistake again (but of course making a whole lot of new ones!) then we have grown.
Today, I saw integrity triumph over fear.