Sunday 18 July 2010

What's the Graduation Ceremony about?

Graduation ceremonies are peculiar affairs playing a key structural role in University life. How does it relate to Quality or Teaching? It would seem to contain aspects of both. The video is me thinking through some of this. My conclusion (for the moment) is that Graduation serves as a 'mop' to soak up the unmanaged variety/complexity from the interactions between the teaching machine and the quality machine. In this, it serves much the same role as a religious ceremony.

The mop works in remarkable ways at many levels. On an individual level, as with a religious ceremony, the ritual uses communicative practices (order of service, procession, etc) to stimulate/increase perception. In doing so, new communications become more probable, because changes to the perception system inevitably have consequences for the communication system. People talk to each other about stuff they wouldn't have otherwise talked about... This facilitation of communication can address some of the mismatches between the Q and T machines. The mopping works because people are brought together in a common belief in education; their 'faith' holds the show together, and provides a vital balancer (positioning?) for the whole system.

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