Well that’s three years and about £45,000 over and done with. Those weren’t my thoughts, as I watched my son receive his BSc at Leeds University, they were actually his words as we had a drink together afterwards.
It all seems a bit transactional when you put it in those terms; of years taken and pounds cost and that’s the point, because it’s so easy to lose the value when you try and associate costs to such an undertaking.
We were in a big sports hall that had been converted for the purpose. A stage for the dignitaries, a big screen for the motivational stories of past graduates to be shown. About 600 graduands (no it’s not a spelling mistake but the name given to students just prior to them receiving their degree and therefore becoming graduates, who knew?) and 2,000 family and friends packed in to enjoy the ceremony.
The chairman of the board of governors stood to give the opening address and against all of my willpower my eyes started to moisten as he talked of the achievements of the students. Not by individual but as a whole; he described the dedication, perseverance and discipline that they had all demonstrated to reach the required standard. And I thought of the conversations I’d had with my son over the three years and I realised it was true. He had shown all of those qualities and overcome his personal doubts and fears to reach his goal.
And then I thought there 599 other young adults like him who had all done the same in their own way. And then I saw that university was having 12 of these ceremonies to get through the sheer number of graduates they had produced and then I thought of the number of universities in the UK all having their graduation ceremonies and I just marvelled at the energy that is coming out of universities and into the world of work. It was truly inspiring.
As a parent of two, now young adult, children I have had to endure, as have most other parents, the slur of the editors of various newspapers and the producers of various TV shows portraying the young people of the UK as indolent and lazy and benefitting from the dumbing down of the education system. As I compare my memories of my education experience to that of my children I can’t square those newspaper and tv reports to the actuality I witnessed over three hours and which came to fruition in that hall today.
By the time the chairman had finished his talk the tears were trickling down my cheeks, as the emotion of the occasion really got to me.
The last few weeks have been filled with nothing but bad economic news (I’m sorry I was an “in” voter and to me the referendum vote was an awful outcome) and atrocities around the world; but the antidote to all that was in the main sports hall of Leeds University and all the other universities celebrating the achievements of their new graduates.
The education system has undoubtedly changed since I was at university but I think something else has as well; the sense that the next generation coming through are willing and capable of taking on and dealing with the issues that we now face.
It was another inspiring day and my son was only partly responsible for creating the feeling.
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