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In reading the chapter The Forest of Symbols I’ve wondered if maybe school as a whole could be considered as a right of passage. I think it seems to fit the pattern of separation, liminoid period and then aggregation though in some senses more loosely than others. 

First of all, the separation period is the child being old enough to leave their home to go to a school for the first time. Unless they are home schooled than a child is physically separated from their former environment at home. They are no longer babies who are kept at home with their a caregiver. Of course many children will first go to daycare or preschool instead of kindergarten but I’d say those are similar enough to kindergarten to count as the child going off to school.

The liminoid period would be the time that the child spends at school. In this period the children all share the title students and are in-between the state of being babies who are still very dependent upon their caregivers and the state of being independently functioning adults. It this liminal period all the students go through a similar experience of classes and are for the most part given the same expectations and privileges by their teachers. Therefore they are all put on equal footing no matter what background they come from. They also all share a unique bond of being classmates. Students are also expected to be completely obedient towards their teachers as they would be towards their instructors in traditional rites of passage. Of course this period has to be liminoid rather than liminal because it is optional. Children can be home schooled and can choose when they wish to leave the schooling period by dropping out of school before graduation or by choosing whether or not they wish to continue their schooling after high school. 

The aggregation would then be when the child completes the highest level of schooling they desire and then go out into the world to earn some sort of living. What do you think? Could school be seen as a giant rite of passage?         

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One thought on “School as a Modern Rite of Passage

  1. I definitely agree with your point that school would be considered a right of passage. I believe it may be liminal in nature as it is often something which every member of society participate in (with few exceptions) and participation in school is no longer optional as attendance is mandatory and enforced by the government. School as a rite of passage also incorporates liminoid aspects as things like recess can be seen as play. Furthermore, while attending school children are in a different environment then they are in before or after as they are in a highly structured and regulated environment. Once children have completed schooling they then graduate and can be seen as educated members of society.

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