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Rosie_0801

The phrase "Tall Poppy Syndrome"

  

84 members have voted

  1. 1. Does the phrase "tall poppy syndrome" make you feel...

    • Arrogant jerks deserve what they get.
      7
    • Don't be a small minded git. Let the poppies grow!
      77


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So, I'm wondering how this idea is perceived and I've deliberately used polarised choices in the poll to see if people tend more one way or the other. I trust that if you want to discuss nuance, my poll won't stop you. :D

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In the area of gifted education or intellectually gifted children , it is a minefield even in my home country from the time of my parents generation until now. My paternal uncle died as a primary school kid from being knocked down by a car. People commented that smart kids tend to die young because they are too smart for their parents (as in the parents do not deserve such a smart child)

 

In terms of success stories like Bill Gates, Ma Yun (Jack Ma), people might envy these people’s luck but not in a mean spirited way. No one would say they should die early. People do view Steve Jobs as a slave driver but I don’t know anyone cursing him to die. There are plenty of workaholic slave driver CEOs in Asia after all who thinks all employees should be as workaholic as them.

 

In the realm of famous actors and actresses, my friends are too busy gossiping about the affairs and who is with who currently to care. They are also too busy gossiping about politicians messy (corruption, affairs) lives rather than politics. They are angry about nepotism but I don’t think that falls under tall poppy syndrome.

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I've always thought it meant the first one but I much prefer the second meaning.  People can be such a$$holes 

 

 

ETA: In reference to where the term was heard... I watch a lot of Australian and New Zealand TV and I don't think I've ever heard it used here in the Mid-West/Upper South U.S. 

Edited by foxbridgeacademy
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I've only heard the term on this board as explained by some of the Aussie boardies.  Perhaps it is used elsewhere but I haven't heard it.  My understanding is that it refers to outliers - particularly outliers on the upper end.  I think that society needs outliers on both ends as well as everyone in the middle.  The idea of lopping off the tall poppies seems like a misguided concept. 

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I've only heard the term on this board as explained by some of the Aussie boardies.  Perhaps it is used elsewhere but I haven't heard it.  

 

Ah! That's interesting. Do other places use a different phrase for the same concept?

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I've only heard the term on this board as explained by some of the Aussie boardies.

 

First time I ever heard it was when we moved to Australia.

 

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I was introduced to the phrase through a FB group for parents of gifted children. There is a linked article in the group explaining the concept, which gives Australia as the origin. I don't think we have our own concise phrase in the United States until we started borrowing it ;). Perhaps it will become commonly known.

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The phrase makes me think that the tall poppies are at greater risk for getting their heads lopped off because they are not blending with the rest.

 

I am in favor of poppies growing tall or short, or in between, btw. :) They are lovely flowers, literally and metaphorically.

Edited by myfunnybunch
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The phrase makes me think that the tall poppies are at greater risk for getting their heads lopped off because they are not blending with the rest.

 

Yup.

 

I think you are asking how we feel about it. It makes me feel sad.

 

 

Me too.

 

I'm mostly looking to find out whether the person being mowed down is assumed to be arrogant or a decent bod, trying to make good. I'm also wondering if the assumption has shifted over time or whether it's just the company I keep as an adult is kinder.

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I'd always assumed it was someone who was a bit outside the mold being cut to size. I'd pictured the gardener something like Procrustes. 

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I'm mostly looking to find out whether the person being mowed down is assumed to be arrogant or a decent bod, trying to make good.

In Chinese history, tall poppies would be viewed as competition to be mowed down. So whether the tall poppy is arrogant or decent doesn’t matter as it is a power struggle issue.

 

In my circle of ex-schoolmates, those who are against tall poppies tend to come from a position of envy. Those who are kinder tend to have better self esteem overall.

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In Chinese history, tall poppies would be viewed as competition to be mowed down. So whether the tall poppy is arrogant or decent doesn’t matter as it is a power struggle issue.

 

Here achievement is ok as long as you aren't perceived to be developing a superiority complex about it. Power struggles are a separate, though sometimes related thing. 

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Apparently it has been heard in the Americas:

 

(Wikipedia quote)

By 1835, the metaphor had crossed the Atlantic to the United States,[clarification needed (see talk)] where the Torch Light of Hagerstown, Maryland, observed of then-Congressman Francis Thomas, "Politically, Mr. Thomas and his friends are imitating the example of Tarquin and Sextius – indeed it is said some of the tall poppies of our county are in danger of decapitation."[3]

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I have heard two sayings I think are similar. One is "you can't fit a square peg in a round hole," I think.

 

The other one is something about hammering down the nail that is sticking up higher than the others.

 

I think of them (and the tall poppy one) as being about "conformity" and desiring conformity.

 

I am pretty vague beyond that, though. Not sure where I've heard them or anything.

Edited by Lecka
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I have heard two sayings I think are similar. One is "you can't fit a square peg in a round hole," I think.

 

The other one is something about hammering down the nail that is sticking up higher than the others.

 

I think of them (and the tall poppy one) as being about "conformity" and desiring conformity.

 

I am pretty vague beyond that, though. Not sure where I've heard them or anything.

 

The bolded is synonymous with tall poppy syndrome.

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I was older when I first heard the "hammer down the tallest nail" one.

 

I was raised much more "you can't put a square peg in a round hole" like -- "you can't force too much conformity."

 

The nail one I remember being a little taken aback when I heard it.

 

But I am a little confused.... my memory is it really means "yes hammer down the tall nails."

 

But I wonder if it also means "of course you can't just hammer down the tall nails, that would be ridiculous, doesn't this saying make you see that it is bad to hammer down the tall nails."

 

So I don't know. I can't remember where I heard it.

 

I think it was a culture shock moment for me, but I'm not sure I even understood it correctly.

 

I think it was one of those "in another culture this is what people have as a saying" type of things.

Edited by Lecka

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Apparently it has been heard in the Americas:

 

(Wikipedia quote)

By 1835, the metaphor had crossed the Atlantic to the United States,[clarification needed (see talk)] where the Torch Light of Hagerstown, Maryland, observed of then-Congressman Francis Thomas, "Politically, Mr. Thomas and his friends are imitating the example of Tarquin and Sextius – indeed it is said some of the tall poppies of our county are in danger of decapitation."[3]

Interesting. I live not very far from Hagerstown, Maryland, but I have never heard this phrase.

 

TBH, I think this area of the country is so oriented towards having their kids be the tall poppies that I haven't met with much of this sentiment against high performers.

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Interesting. I live not very far from Hagerstown, Maryland, but I have never heard this phrase.

 

182 years is plenty of time to go out of fashion.  :laugh:

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Well -- I guess I don't even know that, being one of the percents who answered "it means let the poppies grow."

 

So I guess it doesn't mean "let the poppies grow," lol.

 

It is very odd to me to think of a saying like that meaning to lop off the tall poppies. But I think I am missing some nuance or context.

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My first memory of the expression "cutting down the tall poppies" was in an essay about (the lack of) gifted education opportunities. I am 95% certain the author referred to it as an Australian expression. Anyway, the author was not in favor of the cutting the poor poppies! 

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My only connection to the phrase comes from a blog about giftedness called Crushing Tall Poppies.  I lean more toward the second option in your poll.  Just as we wouldn't stretch the small poppies or make the violets conform to the average height, we shouldn't cut down the tall poppies for what amounts to aesthetics.

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So is it more a saying that is a commentary of "we are cutting off the tall poppies as a society, and it is a bad idea"?

 

I have a hard time with sayings like this, it is hard to know how they are used.

 

I think there is a lot of room to say, for example, that even though I was raised with lip-service to non-conformity there was still really a lot of emphasis on conformity that wasn't even recognized as conformity. I got a lot of conflicting information.

 

Edit: I think I have heard/seen ironic usages of "you can't put a square peg in a round hole," too, when the meaning is "in fact, we are trying to smash a square pet into a round hole, maybe this is a bad idea," and then in that usage -- would it mean the same as the "tall poppies"?

Edited by Lecka

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Well -- I guess I don't even know that, being one of the percents who answered "it means let the poppies grow."

 

So I guess it doesn't mean "let the poppies grow," lol.

 

It is very odd to me to think of a saying like that meaning to lop off the tall poppies. But I think I am missing some nuance or context.

 

The phrase can mean either. Different people will favour one way or the other though.

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Is it like "getting too big for your britches" when people use it the second way? I don't hear anybody say that but it is a saying I would think is similar to "don't be arrogant."

 

Edit: except "getting too big for your britches" is about a specific person getting above their place, not like nobody should have a higher position. I also have heard "uppity" which I have heard mostly as a racist kind of thing to say.

Edited by Lecka
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I have never heard the phrase but I would never think of the poppy flower as being an arrogant jerk.

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Is it like "getting too big for your britches" when people use it the second way? I don't hear anybody say that but it is a saying I would think is similar to "don't be arrogant."

 

Edit: except "getting too big for your britches" is about a specific person getting above their place, not like nobody should have a higher position. I also have heard "uppity" which I have heard mostly as a racist kind of thing to say.

 

Getting too big for your britches is synonymous too. Tall Poppy Syndrome is not really that nobody should have a higher position in life, they just shouldn't have a higher position or attitude (depending what country you are in, according to info from other posters here) than the person complaining.

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I never heard the expression until this board. I didn't even know about it's full meaning until now. I thought it was just the tall poppies standing out from the rest. I didn't know it included mowing them down. That's horrible.  Sounds like it's safer for poppies that stand out to flee to the big city where they can blend in more.

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I've heard it, but I don't think it's really a common phrase here in eastern Canada.

 

I guess I'd have to choose the first, though that's a strong way to put it.  The sense I've always got is that it's a phrase used when the people in question are seen as behaving in a way that is self-centred.  So - the problem isn't directly that the poppies are tall, but that they are shading out the other flowers.

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 LOL -  am struggling to vote with those choices.  (And ETA - I have only heard this in the context of the GT world) For context, my oldest kid has some PG test scores.  He is not dx-ed 2E, but definitely is quirky and asynchronous.  But as a almost 17 year old junior, things are coming together pretty well for him thanks to many, many years of homeschooling, thinking outside the box, and parenting the kid I have.  We live in a major metro with a large and vocal GT community.   My 2nd kid is more of a covert GT.

 

I can see both sides of this though.  Many of the schools that are labelled GT schools have MORE.  They have more hands on opportunities, more music, more out of the box learning.  Things that could serve MANY kids well.  So I see that causes some resentment.  There are kids that don't test into these programs who have parents jumping through hoops to get them into them via other means.  And though the means of identification is far  from perfect, they really are programs less for the specific needs of the GT kids than the school for bright kids with engaged parents.  I would really prefer that our whole educational model was revamped to be much more personalized to individual learners and much more dynamic and hands on and open ended.  I think the current model isn't working well for many, many kids.  Not just GT kids. 

 

The other thing I've seen that causes resentment is that parents of GT kids will push for their young GT kids to have certain opportunities with older kids that aren't always a good fit with no consideration to the group of older kids involved.   When parents are doing this, they're often assuming the older kids involved are average and they're assuming their own child's social skills will gel with the older kids.  I lead groups and have had major issues with this.  I can tell you my own kid at the 10-11 range was ready for advanced academics but could dominate a class with his questions and his energies and didn't take social cues or give and take like older kids.  That's the kind of thing I've seen as someone who teaches and leads youth classes and groups regularly.  That can cause another layer of resentment.  Many of the homeschool groups I'm involved with have moved to hard limits on ages. 

 

That said, I get it is hard.  This is why we homeschool.  It can be challenging to find meaningful opportunities especially for young gifted kids.  I feel lucky we like in a community where it has been doable, especially as a homeschooler to keep trucking along without needing to push to early college.

 

So though this terminology doesn't bother me at all and I get the meaning behind it, I do see why cutesy language can raise heckles when people feel like they're in the "have not" group.  I would prefer more accurate scientifically based terminology.  For years, having a quirky PG felt more like I could relate to an LD/2E parent more than anything else. 

Edited by WoolySocks
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I've heard the phrase before, and I'm an American. I thought it had something to do with jealousy on the part of the person saying it. It doesn't give any information about the person that is being accused of being a tall poppy, but more an indication that the speaker feels unfairly overshadowed. Actually, jealousy isn't quite the right word. More like the idea that progress and success aren't to be desired, and that the other people are ruining society by not being like everyone else.

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I had never heard this phrase until I met my dh, who is an Aussie. 

I could be wrong but my observation is that in Australia there is a bit more pressure to fit in and that the predominant acceptable culture seems to be working class (not that everyone is that, but that seems to be the presentation to make).  So both of our countries can have superficial ways of presenting ourselves and it seems to me that Aussie way is that the pretense is that you need to act not quite that smart or quite that rich as you actually may be.  If you don't you risk being a tall poppy.  At which point one will not fit in (be like everyone else) and there will be glee when the tall poppy is cut down.  

 

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I think “Don’t get above your raising†has a similar meaning, though I’ve never actually heard anyone use either phrase in real life.

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A tall Poppy can deserve to be lopped down to size for reason separate from what made them stick out.

 

And people can seem envious while cutting down tall poppies, when they're really just being pragmatic or self-protective or something. Usually experience bears out that they're truly just being jerks, though.

 

However, Usually, trying to cut people down to size too often results in them still being better at something than nearly everyone else, but now, as a result of dodging blades for so long, either sad or angry or sneaky and conniving. So, as a rule it's best to just accept that some people are necessarily smarter/whatever than others and chill.

 

(I've though about this :laugh: )

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I first encountered it in one of C. S. Lewis's writings, where he recounted the story that the saying is supposedly based on -- I assume spelling it out for his American readers. I'd have thought more Americans would recognize it from Lewis. He uses it as an illustration of how repressive societies protect themselves by keeping outliers in check, and suggests that in America the other poppies bite the heads off the tall ones -- and that the tall ones will soon bite their own heads off "to be like poppies."

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I first encountered it in one of C. S. Lewis's writings, where he recounted the story that the saying is supposedly based on -- I assume spelling it out for his American readers. I'd have thought more Americans would recognize it from Lewis. He uses it as an illustration of how repressive societies protect themselves by keeping outliers in check, and suggests that in America the other poppies bite the heads off the tall ones -- and that the tall ones will soon bite their own heads off "to be like poppies."

 

Maybe not enough coffee, but what?  I still do not get this.

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I chose the second meaning, because I disagree with the phrase and the sentiment behind it. I've always understood "tall poppy syndrome" to mean, "Don't stand out. Just be average and blend in."

 

The closest I've heard to "tall poppy syndrome" here in the states is when the phrase "special snowflake" is used in academic settings. I'm thinking of snarky remarks I've heard about gifted kids who are young-for-grade due to early kindergarten entry or grade skipping. I think the phrase is more often used to attack parents who are perceived as wanting special treatment for their child in general, but I've also heard it used to attack parents whose child is continuing to rack up academic awards & achievements even after skipping ahead. Maybe because other parents perceive it as special treatment when the child is allowed to skip a grade or compete (& win) in the same competitions year after year? 

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I chose the second meaning, because I disagree with the phrase and the sentiment behind it. I've always understood "tall poppy syndrome" to mean, "Don't stand out. Just be average and blend in."

 

The closest I've heard to "tall poppy syndrome" here in the states is when the phrase "special snowflake" is used in academic settings. I'm thinking of snarky remarks I've heard about gifted kids who are young-for-grade due to early kindergarten entry or grade skipping. I think the phrase is more often used to attack parents who are perceived as wanting special treatment for their child in general, but I've also heard it used to attack parents whose child is continuing to rack up academic awards & achievements even after skipping ahead. Maybe because other parents perceive it as special treatment when the child is allowed to skip a grade or compete (& win) in the same competitions year after year? 

 

Oh well if that is what it means, it's a disgusting phrase. 

 

Poppies, like people, don't choose to grow tall.  They are either tall or they are not.  So you must shrink down (dumb down) if you grow tall so as to not stand out to appease the people around you?  Dumb..

 

(I assume we aren't actually talking about stature.) 

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So, I'm wondering how this idea is perceived and I've deliberately used polarised choices in the poll to see if people tend more one way or the other. I trust that if you want to discuss nuance, my poll won't stop you. :D

 

 

Actually, I would be curious about the results if you were to add one more option to your poll:  Never Heard This Phrase Before.  I, for one, certainly hadn't.  I clicked on the thread just to find out what the phrase was referring to.

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I've only heard the poppy phrase on the internet.

 

Locally, the families are accused of being 'elites', who are stealing from the other students, because everyone knows only the rich can be gifted.  and the rich really should be in private school, rather than stealing resources from the poor and middle class. Its groupthink to the max...protect the group by throwing out any outliers.  No child gets ahead on the public dime. Of course, it leads to what we have...a shortage of medical professionals for those 'aging in place', a public school acheivement two grade levels below average for our demographics, compelled students in half day of study hall, no threat to anyone's monopoly ...

 

 

Edited by Heigh Ho
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