Corn graduations!



I mentioned that young J is passing out of her Pre-school to move from Reception into Grade One.  Her excellent previous school arranges a graduation ceremony at the end of the school concert. As may be seen, academic dress with mortar boards and the works are laid on.  It is all very sweet, and a bit emotional as these rites of passage tend to be.

Am I alone, though, in feeling that such events at school level should not be trying to imitate actual graduation from university? To my mind the ceremony and dress at these earlier milestones in a scholastic career, including leaving High School with a Grade Twelve,  should have their own unique features, but should still contain reminders that they are nowhere near the peak of achievement in learning. Do not the use of robes and sashes and mortar boards actually devalue them at university level? I feel that is the case, and that ‘cute’ does not provide enough justification. What do you think?

© December 2017 Colonialist
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About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies.
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28 Responses to Corn graduations!

  1. Everything is going topsy-turvy we had no mortar board, my youngest brother doesn’t either when he graduates from the University of Glasgow this year.

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  2. Having left school at an early age (14 years 11 months) I knew nothing of the graduation process and am not in a position to say yea or nay.

    My eldest daughter, from my second marriage graduated from Sydney University, and forgot all about the graduation ceremony. It was some two years after she’d graduated, that she decided that she would go along and go through the ritual, the reason being she admired the uni’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Dame Leonie Kramer, who retired in 2001.(Sarah had graduated in 1999)

    A brilliant woman who died aged 91 – Alzheimer’s disease- what a dreadful way to depart for such a one as she. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonie_Kramer )

    Sarah quite enjoyed the experience and when she went on for her masters degree, she didn’t hesitate about going for her second appearance, she enjoyed it enormously as this 25 second clip will attestt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. toutparmoi says:

    Call me old-fashioned, but the idea of anyone of any age wearing academic regalia (or an imitation of same, however cute) at any sort of graduation ceremony other than a university’s strikes me as daft.
    Having something to put on to mark a rite of passage is a nice idea, but I’m sure the littlies would be happy with a sash on its own. Or even a special T-shirt – which has the additional advantage of being wearable after the event.
    What really bugs me are photos of high school graduates wearing caps and gowns. They look downright fraudulent.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. In every sphere of life, childhood is being truncated

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Arkenaten says:

    I’ve always felt such ceremonies at kindergarten and junior level are much like dressing up in adult clothing and are solely for the benefit of the adult, and designed to bump up the ‘Cuteness'(sic) level.

    Each to his or her own …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In J’s young and often imaginative world, dressing up is fun. The princess dress, the nurses outfit and the rest. To these young ones it’s simply another dress up outfit. However, like you, I was very proud to wear my cap and gown during my graduation ceremony, though I was a grown up with children before I achieved that goal, so may even have been the proudest person in the room, but I wonder if I would have felt the same if the regalia had previously been belittled during infant school pretence, which is what this really is.
    A moving on assembly may have been more appropriate, with the class teacher saying a few words about each child’s character.
    So, yes I totally agree with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • colonialist says:

      Yes, I think the main difference here is that with other outfits the kids know they are playing. With these it isn’t that clear-cut, so an important symbolic aspect of the occasion is, quite simply, lost.
      I like the assembly idea.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I agree with you 🙂 Leave mortar boards for Uni graduation – an end of year concert should be enough for that age.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. etinkerbell says:

    Well, did she feel happy and gratified to be part of the celebration? If she did, it provides enough justification and……she was really cute. 🙋

    Liked by 1 person

    • colonialist says:

      My point, though, is that the celebration could have been as special and gratifying without imitating those aspects of university graduation. That the latter should be kept back for actual university. It is rather like giving the symbolic key to the door at 16 instead of 21. Loses some of the point, and makes the 21st milestone less meaningful.

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  9. disperser says:

    The argument could be made that it leaves an impression on the recipient that might incentivize them to repeat the experience at each successive step.

    I suppose it all depends on what the kids take away from it. Less important, for sure, than what us adults might think.

    Either way, congratulations.

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    • colonialist says:

      There is that to it, of course, but it still makes the ultimate goal that much less special. Would I, I wonder, still have felt a need to go on as an adult to ultimately get to wear that regalia had I already done so at other levels? It acted as one of the incentives to me, anyway, and I must admit to having felt really happy at being entitled and able to don those symbols of higher education.

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    • disperser says:

      Well, not to argue the point (well, OK; I’ll argue a little bit), but you are projecting your own feelings into it and saying what you would do in that situation, but you are looking through the eyes of someone a bit older. Plus, realistically, you can’t say that today you are the same person as you were at their age. People think they are, but they are fooling themselves.

      We construct a narrative for our lives based on our current perspective, but that narrative is not all that reliable. Why, I’m pretty sure I was a genius my whole life but truthfully, probably only in the last forty years or so.

      Truth is, you don’t know how you would have reacted at that age. I find it hard to believe that it would have dissuaded you or minimized the feeling of accomplishment of subsequent milestones. To say that implies that it’s not the hard work and effort that is important, but the symbol. You can buy a diploma for about $10 and hang it on your wall. I don’t think it means as much.

      Anyway, hopefully, you don’t project your feelings onto them.

      Side note: kids play with certain toys that may eventually direct their interest (firetrucks, ovens, dinosaurs, etc.). The fact that they are toys and only represent a small (mostly visual) portion of the actual experience nonetheless inspires them. Kids who receive honorary “membership” to organizations are often proud of the honor and may be inspired to earn the actual honor later in life.

      Or, they could decide they have it made and aspire to retire at the tender age of ten . . . In retrospect, I would have liked to retire at 14.

      Liked by 1 person

      • colonialist says:

        I should be retiring now. It is long past bedtime!
        So, in short, you see no devaluation by premature use?
        I do know for sure that my youth built up admiration for these satisfying symbols of achievement, and that this would have been lessened had it been possible to have enjoyed repeated facsimiles earlier.

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      • disperser says:

        See, that’s what I’m questioning . . . the fact that at your current age you are sure how you would have felt back then about something that did not happen and that your certainty is based on leveraging a feeling that at best you can barely remember (while insisting it’s as clear a memory as if it was a tape recording in your head) and assuming it would have been lessened by something that didn’t happen.

        . . . almost sounds like a politician justifying a piece of bad legislation . . . but, past letting it be known that I think you (and apparently others) are projecting your current feelings onto a constructed scenario from a different era when you were for certain not a person with the same feelings and outlook that you are now, I’m willing to let it go. They are, after all, no relations of mine.

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        • colonialist says:

          disperser — I am as well in tune with recollections of how I would have felt at that age on that subject as I am with those of my enjoyment of artichokes or parsnips. I hated both with a passion then, and still do now.

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    • incentivize. What an ugly word,

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