Aim Higher America

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My kid finishes third grade tomorrow. Great year. Quick. Efficient. Packed with stuff like science fairs, recorder concerts, advanced math, written and oral presentations, and larger projects that required thought and hard work. I am neither nostalgic nor wistful. It’s third grade. The only surprise remaining is will she make Honor Roll or Superintendent’s List (actually, no real suspense). As an engaged parent, there shouldn’t be many surprises or unexpected emotions with regard to our children’s education.

As the year began to wind down, there was much buzz around campus about “Fifth Grade Graduation.” The hell?! These kids who will enter middle school next year were practicing for an actual graduation-like ceremony at the local high school auditorium. For what?! Like these parents don’t coddle and enable these brats enough. They they’ll do it again at the end of eight? This is what happens when every kid gets a trophy for participation.

I made it clear to Beasley that there’s NO SUCH THING AS A FIFTH GRADE GRADUATION. You go from fifth to sixth, as expected. There are two graduation ceremonies of some note: high school, but that doesn’t really count because if you’re only qualified to work at McDonalds, you’re considered a loser by everyone on Earth, Mars, and Venus. And the other graduation of note is college. You don’t need to do a “graduation” for professional or graduate school because by then you’re an adult and should have outgrown such nonsense.

In this Ph.D.-dense family, we have devalued the high school graduation as merely another moment of reflection akin to getting a new pair of sneakers or an iPad. The passage from elementary-to-middle, and middle-to-high school–like eating or sleeping–should not be considered anything special in an advanced and ever-evolving civilization.

Having an opportunity to say goodbye to your school of the past six years is fine; it’s good to reflect and share. It teaches us how to plan for our futures. But to have a big fucking ceremony for finishing fifth grade? No wonder the Chinese, Japanese, South Koreans, and the Indians are kicking our asses in math, science, reason, logic, and everything else except hygiene and “faith” because Americans are pathologically vain and fearful. Explains the inexplicable rise of this tea party nonsense, doesn’t it? All this teaches the children is to expect something for nothing. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Well, I’m pushing back. It is ridiculous nonsense to have a big, fake ceremony in an auditorium because you passed fifth grade. Pomp and Circumstance, gown and mortarboard, and a PA system are dumb enough at a college graduation. Cruises and cars for high school graduation are completely unnecessary. You know what I did after high school graduation? Went to Empire Strikes Back with my girlfriend. After college? Got ready to work the next morning. I only did the college ceremony because my grandmother thought it would be neat.

Grow up America, we’re being left in the dust. It takes a mope to grow a mope.

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6 Responses to “Aim Higher America”

  1. Angela@BeggingTheAnswer Says:

    THANK YOU for posting this. It’s one thing if the kids exchange yearbooks or if the teacher wants to throw some little class party (eg: cupcakes or extra recess or whatever.) But to have a preschool-kindergarten, or kindergarten-1st grade, or 5th grade-6th grade, etc. graduation ceremony is overdoing it. There doesn’t need to be an award for doing what is expected of you (i.e. passing 5th grade.)

  2. G Thang Says:

    I read the WP article I’m not in any way a fan of 5th grade Graduation, and strongly agree with your sentiments that it’s this kind of ceremonial pampering that has us on the verge of softening into mush. But I liked the final anecdote about the walking-out ceremony. If you harken back youll remember that the move to middle school was a scary and exciting prospect so having your peers cheer you on to the next step feels valid and appropriate to the moment.

    Having parents clap themselves on the back for the Big Accomplishment. And dressing kids the part of a much more significant achievement is downright JonBenet-Ramsey-level disgusting. Yet another BS photo-op. But moments of change need to be marked. It’s how we mark them, how in line with the accomplishment they are and if the message is “you have a long way to go, but this is an important step” then I think kids need to hear that. And soak up the admiration of the “little kids”. It’s gonna be awhile. Middle school sucks, let them enjoy the summer while it lasts.

  3. The Professor Says:

    Exactly….like moving from 5th to 6th is some kind of accomplishment. High School? Expected. College? Expected. Everything we do as parents today just blows up kids egos. The students I have–younger grad students, especially–think that they are the greatest because they’ve been told how great they are all the time. You should hear me when I coach. I praise when called for, correct when called for, but I never blow smoke with the kids. How can someone say “good try” if the kid was obviously not trying and could really give a shit? We’re raising coddled little weaklings!

  4. charley Says:

    you saying anout the graduation between grades, USA started the prom idea at the end of secondary school (UK) now here in the UK primary schools have decided that the 11 year olds cant wait unit they are 16/17 to have a prom that they have to have it at the end of primary school at the start of secondary. all these kids will already have been to a prom and all dress up as if they are teenagers. they miss out on the thrill of it all when your 16/17 maybe even 18.

  5. keri Says:

    This article basically says it all.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/how-to-land-your-kid-in-therapy/8555/

  6. Curacao Vacatures Says:

    Curacao Vacatures…

    […]Aim Higher America « Mydadhomies[…]…

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