Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Graduation. From Sixth Grade.

My son graduated from sixth grade last night. First and foremost, I'm really, really proud of him. He did an amazing job studying, learning, acclimating, and growing in his first year in an Israeli school.
But the graduations have really gotten out of hand.
Full disclosure: I had both a shiur and a meeting last night, so I only suffered through a half-hour of the program. But the essential point remains accurate. But my son's sixth grade graduation, which began over half-hour late (another pet-peeve of mine), ended over three hours later.
Last week Rena was away, so I got to attend my four-year-old's "End of year ceremony." For a four-year-old. From gan. And do you want to guess what he did the very next day? That's right. He went back to gan. And what's he doing tomorrow morning, after his gan has officially "ended" today? Again, you guessed it. He's going to "camp". Oh, did I mention that "camp" is in the same building, run by the same people as "gan"? It's a good thing that he had an hour-and-a-half long "graduation".
These graduation ceremonies are really getting out of control. For some reason, schools feel the need to mark the end of the school year with a program including speeches, plays, programs, movies, dances, and anything else you can imagine. Don't get me wrong, but these programs are almost unbearable. Yet, in a grade with sixty kids, every child must have some significant role in the program, making it ever longer and more intolerable.
I celebrated three graduations in my life: high school, college and Semichah. I remember each of them (although not the college one that well), and each one marked a significant milestone in my life. When we start graduating from one year to the next, we not only assign greater significance than necessary to imaginary milestones. We also make every milestone that much less significant, making it difficult for our children to know whether they've accomplished anything at all.