Let’s curb ‘clapping culture’


Ryan Guan

Clapping culture has overtaken morning meetings at Masters. Kira Ratan argues that we need to think about clapping care.

There’s only one thing to do at Masters when a faculty member comes up to the front of the Theater and scolds 300 people for disrupting Morning Meeting. Give them a standing ovation. 

The “clapping culture” here has been a hallmark of my high school experience. And, 90% of the time, I love it. There’s nothing better for an adolescent growing into themselves, or someone who built up the courage to come up and speak about something that means a lot to them, than positive support and reinforcement. Masters is really great at giving that to people; we are known for that generosity. 

Now that we’re back to gathering as a community in-person, it’s become clearer that there’s a different epidemic infiltrating our meetings: the empty clap. During a Morning Meeting recently, Mr. Newcomb came up to the podium and began to say, “let’s give a big round of applause to…” and before he could even finish his thought, people had already started clapping.

“Reminder: Today is Testing Tuesday! Don’t forget to turn in your sample on the first floor of the Dining Hall by 2:30 p.m.” Clapping.

“Please pick up after yourself and throw your own garbage in the trash. The maintenance crew should not be subjected to that.” Clapping.

“There’s a black Toyota sedan double parked in the senior lot. If this is your car, please move it right after Morning Meeting.” More clapping.

When we clap for every single thing that anybody says, it all loses meaning. Our sincere celebrations get lost, because we’re going through the motions without intentionality. 

As I look back on the last five years, the moments when we’ve gathered for meaningful connection as a community have been some of my favorites. I want everyone who deserves the love and support Masters knows how to give in abundance to get it, but I want it to be genuine. 

Next time we sit down at Morning Meeting, listen to what’s being said. Clap for senior speeches, and team wins and performances. Clap loudly, and celebrate that feeling of saying something, knowing that the entire school will hear. And the mundane announcements that are there to remind us about the little details in our community, be aware of those, but don’t let them drown out what really matters: gathering together and being deliberate in our kindness. 

Clap conscientiously.