On the Shoulders of Giants

  • by Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FAGD, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA, BSc, MSc, DDS, FAGD, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA
  • Jul 23, 2018, 15:12 PM

In the 12th century, Jewish Talmudic commentator Isaiah di Trani wrote about a rabbinical debate about wisdom and who could see further — giants or dwarfs. Since the obvious answer was giants, he next posed the question of: “If the dwarf is placed on the shoulders of the giant, who sees further?”

“On the shoulders of giants.” This phrase appeared even earlier in Chartres Cathedral in a stained glass transept, as recorded by John of Salisbury in his 1159 book Metalogicon. It rose to its greatest level of commonality after Sir Isaac Newton wrote in a now famous letter, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

This phrase remained at the back of my mind while I sat in my AGD Fellow robes in New Orleans this June. AGD was founded in 1951 when a study club of dentists recognized that high-quality continuing education courses for our profession were hard to find. AGD was borne out of that quest for improving the quality of care we provide for our patients through lifelong learning. The AGD Fellowship award was created in 1961.

I joined AGD at the suggestion of one of my professors at the University of Toronto, and I have been a member since I graduated in 1987. I have long aspired to earn my Fellowship. And it took work. Nothing happens in my world too quickly, and for a time, my test anxiety kept me from taking the Fellowship exam. However, in 2017, I took the Fellowship preparation course at the AGD Scientific Session in Las Vegas, wrote and passed the Fellowship examination, and applied to receive my Fellowship in New Orleans in 2018.

The journey to AGD Fellowship is one I did not embark upon alone. I love what we, as dentists, get to do in our profession. We make a difference in people’s lives on multiple levels, each and every day, and there are many women and men who helped me realize the dream of taking our care to ever higher heights.

It is on the shoulders of these giants that I am standing, proud of my Fellowship. It is on the shoulders of these giants — dental hygienists, dental assistants, administration, sales and support, dental laboratory teams — that I am what I have become today (not to mention my amazing wife and daughters who give me a reason to enjoy each and every day with gratitude).

My AGD Fellowship is not the pinnacle of my career, but, at this time, it is the highest height I have been able to achieve. Onward and upward.


(From left) Sharlene Tayler, Carol Booth, Dr. Larry Stanleigh and Robin Reboul at the AGD2018 Convocation Ceremony.

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