Summer is upon us, the sun is shining, the temperatures are rising, and school terms are coming to a close. Some students have reached the completion of their course of instruction and will be moving on to new horizons. Ceremonies are held throughout the land.
One would think that these ceremonies would be celebrating 4 years of focused effort by the students. Families and communities would want to take note of the level of achievement. What have all these students accomplished? How far have they come?
Instead, graduation ceremonies are mindless conformity with some anonymous vision of pointless pagentry. Detailed rules spell out how you may dress, where you can walk, what few may speak and what many must remain silent. Everything that has been taught about independent thought and action, about a purposeful and examined life, about being people of individual worth and making a unique personal contribution to the whole society, all of this is set aside.
This is not the time or place to make a personal statement or to offer an individual contribution. It is the time for everyone to dress alike, to walk in line, to speak not at all. If there are any who would step away from these expectations, they will be banned from participation. All that matters, all that we wish to celebrate is mindless conformity.
The stick is ostracism; what is the carrot? What will you receive if you agree to set aside all the substance of your education to participate in the graduation ceremony? At best a document which no one will ever need to see again. In many cases, any empty folder in an empty gesture recalling past centuries.
My personal experience extends only 45 years, but I would have thought 45 years would be long enough to learn a better way to play this game. Perhaps to those who plan such ceremonies it is only the game that matters, and not the actual reality.