This madness must end.
This week marks the end of classes and the beginning of summer for many school districts around the United States. And in conjunction with the final bell, working parents of young kids will be sheepishly asking their managers for a few hours off to celebrate their kid’s first-grade, second-grade, and perhaps even fourth-grade graduation. These ceremonies will feature the orchestral pulse of Pomp and Circumstance, mini-mortarboards and robes, rainbow-colored “diplomas”, and, most likely, a cookie and juice reception. These ceremonies are only a time-suck for overburdened parents. But more so, they water down the rite of graduation through the unnecessary celebration of a widely expected outcome. The madness must end.
To be annoyingly pedantic about the whole thing, one could argue that even high school graduation is out of step with the graduation ceremony’s historic 12th Century roots. The flat hats and thin robes, in fact, call back to the dress of medieval European University professors. They’d appropriated a practice from the Muslim world of conferring degrees to students, progressing their scholarship in order to eventually teach.
But to receive those degrees, a student had to strive and progress on their own accord. Receiving a masters or doctorate degree was a momentous occasion to be celebrated. And it still is. A diploma though? It’s just a certificate that says a kid has finished the bare minimum education required of him by…