Extra Curricular Extra Curricular Activity
I was looking back at my school record and I was wondering how I ever got the reputation for being a lazy person. Probably it was that I didn’t really work very hard all the time. I was a B student who everybody knows was capable of getting As. But there were a few things that I did outside of school. ECA wise, I was involved in a uniformed group and that took a lot of time and energy, and people were always talking about how tough the camps were. There was the math club, where I did train with the rest of the gang, but never really put in the effort to be nationally ranked. I was the undisputed champion of the B team, of course. In the school math competition, which the team was banned from participating in, I came in champions.
Funny thing was, even as I hardly liked to pay attention in class, I was fascinated by mass culture and the media. I made it a point to watch a TV series every week, and it culminated in me writing a play for the school. After school, I spent hours at the libraries and the book stores leafing through Rolling Stone magazine. Back then there was no internet to make all this stuff available so I had to do it old school way. And I was listening to ridiculous amounts of music, spending all my pocket money on cassettes. It paid off later… well maybe one day it’ll pay off. But I’m sitting on a stack of music that I have faith in. And I also participated in the Creative Arts program.
All this stuff is what I called the extra-curricular extra-curricular activity. Sometimes it’s stuff that people will not give credence to. It’s probably something that my parents would not really have approved of, although I do have a bone to pick with them on one hand. My mother was in the crazy position of wanting me to practice my piano over and over and do well at music, but at the same time she didn’t really want me to become a professional musician.
So if you added it up, studying at RI + scouts + maths club + my own private investigations into popular culture, I don’t think I was really lazy or idle. And even when I was daydreaming, there were plenty of ways to make my daydreaming productive.
Sometimes I wonder at what children these days have to go through. Plenty of cramming during school, and after that plenty of cramming after school. Unlike students in the past, they’re not allowed to slack through most of their days because they have a GPA to maintain. It’s not “school grades don’t really count, only the ‘O’s and the ‘A’s count”. It’s “you have to be on your toes all the fucking time so that they can force feed the fucking curriculum down your throat. “ Maybe I did not adapt well to such a system, because I bombed out during my freshman year in college later, and it took me a while to find my feet.
But I would not have liked to have gone through a more stern and rigorous system. It would not have been good for me. The one that I went through suited me fine, because it made the balance. There is a form of narcissism where the school system thinks that the student ought to revolve himself around the needs of the school, rather than the other way around. The old system wasn’t idle, but it wasn’t so all-encompassing that it didn’t allow the student to breathe. I cherished my ability to idle my afternoons in a public park, or in a nearby town square, without having it severely affect my future. Some of my most productive moments took place when I was daydreaming. There’s a lot a teenager can learn from partaking in the system, and there’s a lot a teenager can learn from sitting back and bitching about how fucking stupid the system is. I did plenty of both.
There will be regrets in life. But you can’t have everything because you can’t be everywhere at once. One glaring omission in what I did in school, though, is group activities. I was never very good at them. My choice of an ECECA was pretty solitary in nature. And to be honest, I could understand why my parents were bitching about me buying shitloads of music. And you know, it wouldn't make any sense at all unless... well I watched a lot of TV and it didn't make any sense at all until one day I won a playwriting competition. Then only in hindsight, all that watching TV was worth it. So in order for all my music appreciation club to be worth it, I'd have to be a rock star or something.