Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#9-- Hats off... or on?!

I LOVE the way that students graduate from the Gymnasium in Denmark because it is such a personal experience! Third year students have exams during their last six weeks of school and each exam brings them one step closer to graduation. The most anticipated day during the exam process is the LAST DAY... this is different for each student depending on where in the schedule her exam falls, but sometime during the last week of school she will have that last Oral Exam. This Monday was the day that the final leg of the process started for my two classes of 3rd year students. Both of these classes had Danish as their last assessment, so although I was not part of the actual exam with them, I was hanging out in the hallway waiting to see many of their BIG MOMENTS. 

The way it happens at our school is that as the student is in the exam room delivering her oral presentation, her family and friends are gathering (quietly, of course) in the hallway. They typically arrive to the school with their cameras, bouquets of roses, and bottles of champagne and before they come to the exam room, they stop by and pick up the Graduation Cap for their student. 

Once the student finishes the exam, she comes out into the hall to wait while the censor and teacher discuss her presentation and assign her grade. A few minutes later, the teacher brings the student back in and at that point, the family and friends get ready. Then that door opens one more time and the student walks out as a GRADUATE (or på dansk: "STUDENT"). It is at this point that the celebration begins.....JUST FOR HER!  Take a look at how the process works:

Once the cap is donned, the family and friends head out into the common area of the school to celebrate in style. Champagne is poured, gifts are often given and lots more pictures are taken. It is truly a time to celebrate THAT INDIVIDUAL STUDENT's accomplishment after 3 years of hard work! 

Some of my students received their caps on Monday, others yesterday, and then the rest will receive theirs today. And EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM will have the chance to be PERSONALLY CELEBRATED. Then on Friday, we have our actual school-wide graduation ceremony, which is actually quite similar to how we do things in the US... it is a day to celebrate the graduating class as a group. But no matter which day the student receives her cap, I can guarantee you that it does not leave her head until after the following weekend.... you can see the graduates all over town in their Gymnasium Caps for the next several days and it is a reminder to the entire town of what they have accomplished! 

There is not a single thing about the Danish way of graduating our students that I dislike. I think it is an INCREDIBLE system that celebrates hard work and academic achievement! 


Garkbit said...

I'm awaiting your opinion of the wild drink-fuelled excesses which follow - is that #8? :-)

annuca said...

I've heard of this tradition from my Danish boyfriend and always wondered...what happens if someone actually fails the exam?!?! Wouldn't that be even more humiliating? Or is the last exam chosen purposefully that it makes up such a small part of the final grade that it doesn't matter if you don't pass (cos otherwise, if passing is guaranteed, doesn't that make the exam a bit redundant?)

Mads and Kelli said...

Garkbit...it's coming. :-) Not #8, but definitely on my list this next week!!

And Annuca, yes the last exam counts...just as much as the rest. If there is a student who is in danger of not graduating---meaning that his average of all 13-15 grades (exams plus end of course grades) does not equal a passing grade, then he has already been advised PRIOR to that last exam....
And yes it does happen. Ideally, this student knows LONG before this last week, but sometimes there might be on that is on the fence... so of course you have to work with what you have.
But it is not a matter of "will he get the hat or not" when he waits outside the exam room. It is more a matter of what grade he will get to either improve or lessen his overall average (which is what determines his entry into the specific university programs).

annuca said...

Sounds a bit more reassuring to know that you will know beforehand if you have the possibility of not graduating! I guess I grew up in a system where you had to pass some core subjects, or others you don't get the certificate (I guess what you call 'graduate' in your case). So if I failed my national language exam (or English, or Maths - maybe some others) I would have failed. Also, the exam had a big chunk of the grade so there was no way that you could have known before if you were going to fail (that's another question...what percentage of the grade do these oral exams have and what percentage does course work have? Cos I struggle to see how someone can know long before an exam if they are close to failing or not!).
Apologies for all the questions...I am just trying to figure the system all out!

Mads and Kelli said...

No apologies, Annuca...that is really why I write so much about my experience at the gymnasium because it is such a unique system and I think it is exciting to tell about how it all works ...right down to the last details. :-)