Monday, December 29, 2003

The courage of an average Joe, and the insipidness of teachers 

Much is made around the 'net of the story of a "courageous Canadian" HS graduate who was voted valedictorian and then told the graduating class "a lot of you were jerks" at commencement. His election is claimed to have been championed by other students as a joke to embarass him. In defense of Mr. Ironside the valedictorian, let me say that first, I only communicate with one friend with whom I graduated in HS because we grew up across the street from each other ... and none in college. So he's right to say he will "probably never see any of you again;" he probably won't and won't be the worse for it. In comments on Joanne Jacobs' post, Nick from Twilight of the Idols points out that this is much ado about nothing, because HS graduations have become rather meaningless.
Valedictory addresses have been the same smarmy BS about "the future" and "what great times we had" (whether we did or not) and "the real world" since the first one was given.

They should just hire out Successories to write one perfect graduation speech and save thousands upon thousands of high school kids the trouble of having to write a couple pages about "the real world." Or perhaps, better yet, just cut the whole thing out in the first place.

But rather than focus on the "revenge of the nerds" quality of the story, take a moment to consider the reaction of the teachers.
The principal does not believe the teen was the target of bullying or ridicule at the school, but admits his Grade 12 class, part of the province's double cohort, suffered a higher than normal level of teenage stress.

With only four years to gather the grades and resume fodder to get them into university, and with soaring admission standards creating cutthroat competition, the Grade 12s had bigger things on their mind than parties and prom dates.


Since Mr. Ironside's controversial address, members of the school's faculty have approached Mr. Adams [the principal--kb] about changing the system by which valedictorians are selected, perhaps moving to a short-list model chosen by teachers.

But he is comfortable with the results of a popular vote, and said valedictorians must represent the persona of his or her grade, not the preference of their teachers.
You have the children for twelve years, you teach them all your wonderful theories of interdisciplinary, cooperative, multicultural learning, and then you can't even trust them to pick who gives the graduation address? What have you accomplished?