The students at the Chinese high school where Jed teaches have a huge assortment of nonessential-type classes to pick from. At first this shocked me because my experience with students of Asian ancestry in the United States was that they were focused, over-achievers when it came to academia and that type of person didn't seem to be the type who also took dance and art and chorus and German and gender studies classes. I expected these students to be completely focused on maths and sciences, mainly. The group of teachers who arrived with us included several PE teachers, a dance teacher, several language teachers and a couple of music teachers. There are also Physics, Economics, Chemistry, all types of maths and English teachers as well as a bunch more I don't even know about.
Discussing this with Jed the other day, I realized I don't even feel like I had the opportunity to take an elective in high school. I was on the "college prep" track. This meant I took English, science, math, history, and a foreign language each semester, all four years of high school. That's five classes in a six class day. For the first two years, I was also required to take PE. So for two years, no electives at all. Here are my classes, to the best of my poor memory...
Intro Physical Science
Geometry (I had to retake 1 semester) and then the second semester Child Development
Intro to Trigonometry/Algebra
Economics (1 semester) and then Criminal Justince/Pre-law
See, no room for a fun elective. And, as I remember it, this the "college prep" track. I had to have four years of English, four years of math, four years of science, two years of PE. I think history (beyond the first two or three years) and a foreign language (beyond one or two years) might have been my electives. Child development was an elective and I only took it so I could make a doll out of a five pound bag of sugar and carry it around for two weeks. I remember my sister doing that in high school and I had been looking forward to it for years.
But otherwise, where's the fun in that?! Even when I got to college, when I had to pick an elective from a list of qualifying classes, I almost always picked the English option (and I was an English major). Aside from two semesters of beginning guitar and two wasted semesters taking "effective study habits" and "career development" or something (not sure why I took either of those classes), I didn't take any fun classes in college either. Well, fun outside of my major. I took creative writing, literature & film and young adult literature... all of which I loved. But no extracurricular type classes. I feel like I need to enroll at a community college with my kids in a few years and just take fun classes.