I saw the other day (Dec 1, 2007) in Le Figaro about an opinion poll saying that 81% of (4,470) French people interviewed via internet were in favor of having an (American style) graduation ceremony to mark the end of a university (equivalent) degree in France.
I think this is marvellous. The celebration of education through the graduation ceremony is a lovely tradition which I discovered at the end of my (only) year at The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Ct). Compared to my almost stealthy departure from Eton in England at the end of five years, I very much enjoyed the festive–emotional–ceremony at the end of my year at Hotchkiss. Of course, there is still a long way to go before the concept of alumni relations travels across the Atlantic.
The state of education is a concern in many countries. I see it as a “top of mind” concern in both France and the United States, in any event. Both systems have positives, but both suffer from a degradation in the standards, as well as a challenge to valorize (give value to) the role of the teachers.
In any event, we should acknowledge the importance of education, celebrate the achievements and also not forget to recognize the teachers that have had an impact on our lives (beyond academics, on the transmission of values).