On graduation ’09.

I forgot to write about the graduation ceremony, of which I saw maybe 60%. I missed the first ten minutes or so because I was assigned to hand out programs in the lobby before the ceremony, and missed the last ten-to-fifteen minutes because I had to prepare to distribute diplomas after the ceremony. Aside from this, there were two other disappointments:

First was that the faculty didn’t wear caps, hoods and gowns this year, partly because of the expense and partly because most of the faculty didn’t want to wear them. Well, we should have worn them. Graduation is academia’s most important ceremony. It’s the only public opportunity that we teachers have to display our academic rank, as shown by the style of the gowns, hoods and caps. It’s a visual reminder that there’s an extensive academic world beyond high school–and considering that we’re talking about a college prep school graduation, the reminder seems appropriate.

If we teachers don’t wear the regalia associated with our profession the one time a year we should, then we diminish our profession. If we teachers don’t wear the regalia that signifies our achievements in academia, then we diminish–however slightly and however subtly–our achievements and we diminish academia in our students’ eyes. That’s the wrong message to send at a commencement.

Besides, those gowns are huge–you can wear whatever you want under there.

(There was an upside: the decision not to wear gowns gave me occasion to purchase a snazzy new grey pinstriped suit. I don’t use commas if I don’t feel like it.)

The second disappointment was that we didn’t get to see the cops drag any unruly spectators out of the arena.