Thursday, May 19, 2016

Celebrating the Obvious

I attended an upscale school's 5th Grade Recognition ceremony this morning.

Mr 10 was handsome, as ever, with his bow-tie askew and his tuxedo vest buttoned smartly across his chest.  He wore his formal sneakers, as did nearly half the other boys.  All the girls wore party shoes. I'm sure there's a moral there, but I'm having trouble finding it.

I'm still stuck on the carefully applied red lipstick sported by one of his classmates.  I was teetering on the edge of outrage until her classmate's eyeliner pushed me clear over.

Prepare for a rant.

What in the world did these kids do to merit a celebration?  Their parents made sure that they got to school every day; let's put the Moms and Dads up on the stage for a certificate and a round of applause.  These students did what they were supposed to do - they went to school.  In August, they will still go to school, albeit in a new building. What's the big deal?

In Marin, we had a K-2, 3-5, 6-8 set up, spread over the 3 buildings in the district.  There was no pedagogical reason for the division; it was established at a time when the school age population seemed stable and the number of desks and the number of bodies worked out this way.  There were no celebrations when the kids moved from building to building; they were still following their mandated educational paths.

There was nothing noteworthy about any of their transitions until they left our K-8 district for the high schools of their choice.  Then, they got a convertible powered parade down the main street of our peninsula.  They waved to their adoring minions lining the curbs as the minions pelted them with candies.  It was the end of our town's financial investment in their educations.  They were moving on.  There was cause for celebration.

But today's celebration, all 59 minutes of it, was replete with tears and cheers and the reading of 100 some names. The scholars strode across the stage, received a certificate and hug, and then returned to their folding chairs.  They serenaded the crowd and then adjourned for photo opportunities and watery punch.  They were quite pleased with themselves.

I'm proud of the human Mr, 10 has become.  I didn't need a meaningless celebration to let him know.

This is like all those trophies I still have in the storage closet, trophies presented because Mom and Dad paid for the kid to play on the team.  The earned trophies are with my kids.  They remember the tournaments and the struggles and they love those silly plastic athletes on the sillier plastic plinth.

I hope today's 5th graders can view today's ceremony from that perspective.  I'm not sure that I want to know the privileged jack asses they'll become if they think that showing up deserves a reward.


  1. These celebrations annoy me. It reminds me of a quote from "The Incredibles".

    It's not a graduation. He's moving from the 4th grade to the 5th grade.

    It's a ceremony.

    It's psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity.

    And I'm not saying that any of these kids are mediocre, but let's celebrate great achievements; not just showing-up and doing one's job. I think celebrations are in order when someone goes above and beyond. As I tell my daughters, their job is to go to school and learn. I don't get rewarded for just doing my job. I get rewarded when I go above and beyond in my job. I worry about what message we are sending to our kids when everything is celebrated and not for the right reasons.

    We are creating these privileged children who don't feel like they have to go above and beyond because we celebrate everything. :(

    Happy Thursday.

    Megan xxx

  2. And now you know why I do not miss teaching at IU--those privileged jackasses and their helicopter parents! Ugh..........

  3. I have a Kindergarten promotion to go to next week, they don't call it a graduation or celebration, it's a promotion. I will miss work to go watch a bunch of 5 & 6 year olds, in caps and gowns no less, but I will be there anyway, to support my Great Nephew in his accomplishment.

  4. Im not sure what this is about. Parenting needs it rewards I guess and that is the reward to the parent for reaching that particular finish line.

  5. I'm with you. There is no graduation that needs to be celebrated until the end of grade twelve. It is all for the parents.


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