Monday, April 19, 2010

School's out

This is not a graphs and tables sort of blog, but we interrupt your usual service to bring you an exclusive table from New Zealand's leading university. Pictured below is a table showing the numbers of academic staff from the Faculty of Arts who will be attending graduation ceremonies.

To put it another way, your students spend at least three years and several thousand dollars earning degrees in non-vocational subjects which probably will never earn them much money, but which they took for the love of learning. Friday 16 April is their big day, the day they get to wear gowns, accept their degrees, process down Queen Street and show their family and friends that they made it, that all the hard work is done and that this day marks the biggest achievement of their young lives.

But you pricks cannot be bothered to turn up.


Tom said...

So what? All the dressing up and silly hats is pompous fake tradition at its worst (not that I've ever been to a degree ceremony. I have always thought that they were too silly to want to go near one).

Besides, does getting a degree really mark the biggest achievement of someone's life? They paid the fees, turned up and sat the exams. Lots of people do it, it's hardly special.

Deborah said...

I disagree, Tom. Sure, lots of people do it, but for many of the people there, this is the only time that they will do it. It's their time to celebrate.

It's part of the job. They should be there. Especially those who have doctoral students graduating.

Sanctuary said...

"...does getting a degree really mark the biggest achievement of someone's life?"

Don't be such a cynical bastard. these are mostly young people, it's the most important day in their life SO FAR. Your argument is akin to saying no one should bother going to their wedding either, since most of us get married and its hardly special.

Well, it is special to them and their lecturers should attend, if only to remind themselves what it is all about.

Peter in Dundee said...

My wife and I got thoroughly bored by our third graduation ceremony and associated socialising. That we were on the other side of the world when my PhD was awarded was not the only reason I did not graduate in person.

If it palls so for graduates Paul imagine what it must be like for academic staff, year after year.

Also consider that back then (I don't know these days) there were two graduations a year, in December and in April. That is a lot of processing in gown, hat and associated finery. That's what they pay professors and deans for.

Tom said...

Fair enough - perhaps I was overstating the not special thing a bit, but there are plenty of other things people do which are equally valuable experiences, and which can be very challenging and formative, but which people don't make a weird ceremonial fuss about.

And I might be cynically generalising about students who have paid the fees and passed the exams. But on the basis of abundant, if anecdotal, evidence I do think that this is not an unusual attitude. Even in the humanities. It strikes me as very sentimental to think that the love of learning is or ever has been the principal motivation for any but a minority of students (and, come to that, I have known one or two unversity staff whose intellectual motives have occasionally been compromised by aspirations to status, career and power).

Anyway, to my mind the whole fake medieval graduation thing represents institutional power and pseudish pomposity, which are the worst aspects of universities, rather than genuinely acknowledging the value of a student's individual intellectual experience, which is what really counts. The idea of celebrating someone's intellectual and critical ability by making them dress up in funny clothes which are identical to hundreds of their colleagues, and then enact a sort of little dance based loosely upon medieval clerical tradition, is in the realm of satire.