Ethnographic Notes B – Class room sessions as ritual-like events


On campus classroom sessions are ritual like events. However, different people have different rituals concerning these sessions. There is a set time and day when all of the class members are supposed to arrive. Some show up early every day, others show up just in time, and still others wait until 5 to 10 minutes after the start and then sit down quietly in the back. People normally sit with those that they know and once they have picked a place to sit they usually sit in the same place each time they attend. In most classrooms there is a social expectation that the members will be quite. Some people sit attentively and might write notes. Others might appear to be falling asleep. There is a period of time where a single person, the teacher, stands in front of everyone and talks for a set amount of time. How long the talking goes on varies depending on the teacher. Some people will duck out early, others will leave immediately after class has finished, and still others will hang out afterwards and chat with friends and maybe even ask the teacher questions.

Many of these ritual traits are similar to those for attending a Christian worship service. Although some worship services are very different and much more interactive. The common expectations include arriving at a set time. Sitting down and passively listening to the service including a message from someone who is considered an expert on the subject. Then after learning has been completed people leave and hopefully make use of what they have learned.



The pledge of allegiance is one ritualistic aspect of a class room session in the U.S that resembles ritual aspects of church events. The pledge of allegiance was written by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy in 1892. Bellamy was a Christian socialist. Although the pledge was originally written as a patriotic oath, the phrase “under God” was added in 1954 which turned it in to a public prayer. This was due to a campaign by the Knights of Columbus.

The fact that the pledge is still recited in many public schools throughout the U.S. on a daily basis shows how certain aspects of classroom settings are similar to a church setting in this way. Of course, there are many differences between class room setting and church settings. In school, children are taught various subjects and there is usually not a focus on religion unless it is being taught in a historical manner.

There is a lot of controversy surround the issue of separation of church and state. May people feel that religion and prayer should be accepted in school systems because it is a matter of free speech. There is also the sentiment that religion in any form should be kept out of public schools.

Works Cited:

“Local.” San Francisco Chronicle. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2013.

“The Pledge of AllegianceA Short History.” The Pledge of Allegiance. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2013.



A religious ceremony done a few days before high school graduation is called a Baccalaureate.  It is a non-denominational ceremony. It is used as a rite of passage for students going out into the real world as well as their parents, families and faculty   Mine was held in a church at a private religious school. It lasts for a couple of hours and we all wear our graduation caps and robes.  It usually consists of prayers and keynote speakers who talk about the changes that we are about to make in our lives.

Not all schools do this but most of United Kingdom and the United States do. It was said to be started in Oxford in 1492 Now these days Baccalaureate is not very common as people say that schools have no business in religion.

l. Cline, Austin. ” San Francisco Chronicle. 2007 May 17. [online] Accessed on 13 May 2013.


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