The Scarecrow was a clever and resourceful individual, but he was not satisfied with mere cleverness. He wanted to think deep thoughts; he wanted a real brain instead of a head of straw. And so he sought the Wizard of Oz, the greatest wizard in the Land of Oz, who could surely help him.
In L. Frank Baum’s original story the Wizard eventually granted the Scarecrow’s wish by removing the straw that filled his head and replacing it with bran, to stand in for brain, mixed with pins and needles, to make him sharp. An interesting gift, different in form from the gift of the “Great Oz” in the 1939 movie based on the book. Here the Wizard satisfied the Scarecrow’s quest for a brain by giving him a diploma. Each gift was clearly “smoke and mirrors”, the gift of a humbug providing semblance without substance. But whether the gift was a new “brain” of bran or a diploma of unknown origin, it seemed to validate the Scarecrow’s ability to think, an ability that he had already demonstrated frequently as the little party of friends wandered through that mysterious Land. And in each story the Scarecrow was content with this validation, and soon, after the Wizard’s departure for the faraway place called “Kansas”, he became renowned as the wise and beloved ruler of the Emerald City.
It seems that long ago I also sought a brain, and, like the Scarecrow of the movie, was rewarded, after a number of years of what often seemed a futile quest, with a diploma. Not completely satisfied, I sought further and acquired a couple more diplomas.
But I didn’t really intend to talk about the Scarecrow, nor, indeed, about myself. Instead I would like to celebrate events in the lives of our children, Hilde (Anna Mathilde) and Arend, both of whom now hold diplomas that proclaim their fulfillment of the very different requirements of their individual bachelor’s programs.
There were never any doubts about the quality of their brains, or of their abilities to think thoughts, whether deep or shallow (the shallow thoughts are important, too). For me, at least, that was never an issue. But simply having a brain, no matter how good, and being able to think thoughts, no matter how deep, are not sufficient qualifications for success in life however success might be defined. Every mind, no matter how fine, requires some guidance, some training, some knowledge and skills. Guidance and training come from many sources, parents and college among them. And now each child has left home in search of her or his own challenges, diploma in hand.
The parents can now rest?