The importance of electives

Storm Bermudez

In sophomore English class, I was told that the key to life is simply having something to look forward to.

In high school, this can be difficult to remember: with stress due to graduation requirements and grades, I find that students are burnt out. But among the educational humdrum, I’ve found happiness in creating castles out of clay, and I know people who’ve found excitement in the metallic whir of sawmills or adoration in a gaggling, happy toddler.

As children, we’re not given much choice about school: music, PE, or art. But as maturing adults, it makes sense to be given more opportunities to choose our own classes. The simple truth is that I enjoy the freedom to choose an interesting class; I imagine others feel the same.

The act of choosing electives lets us exercise this freedom, allowing individuals to differentiate themselves.

Electives get this reputation of wastefulness because they don’t fit the “classic education” model.

Yet, there’s always a kid in a class asking, “When are we going to use this in real life?” The truth is that the answer is usually “never,” as any subject becomes less useful to the general population as it progresses.

Another truth is that with enough interest, there doesn’t have to be a “point” – you’ll find one.

Granted, not everything in life is interesting; however, school can turn hobbies into careers. School teaches accountability; hobbies are natural interests – the two combined equals someone excited to learn but also able to handle responsibility.

My fear as that I’ll grow up and fall victim to the midlife crisis; wondering what I did with my life, and become friendly with the phrase: “I hate my job.”

What better time to cultivate an interest then when you’re deciding your future field of study?

Let’s not forget another bonus to electives: the teachers themselves. There’s this negative assumption that teachers have no other career options. After getting to know five Liberty elective teachers, who all possessed unique and interesting stories, I contest that this is a false belief.

Each had a different path that led to teaching. Inspired by her children, Ms. Leber decided to become a child-human development teacher. As a toddler, Ms. Matsuda was interested in cooking, and Mr. McIntosh was exposed to construction work throughout his childhood. After becoming disenchanted with the bureaucracy of the corporate art world, Mr. Fraser decided to teach. Inspired by a stoic, yet admirable band teacher, Mr. Donley garnered his own interest in music teaching.

Yet among these diverse experiences was a common sentiment: all of them chose teaching because they care about their subjects and their students.

A human has more to offer than a textbook – along with curriculum, teachers offer life experiences, advice, and perspective. Their decision to teach was a decision to share this with you – their student.

By connecting us with people passionate about their subjects and the skills to pursue ours, electives address a subject beyond high school: what we want to do with our lives. To some, electives may just be something to look forward to on a schedule; to others, it may be the opportunity to find that thing that they look forward most in their life.