Club Ed

Mark Twain once said “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” In this quote, he accurately highlights a discrepancy between schooling and education. At Andover, however, schooling is not limited to classroom discussion. This is demonstrated by the various clubs and extracurricular activities offered at Academy Hill. The first things that come to most people’s minds when they think of school are classes, teachers, homework, tests, papers, and other such menial tasks used to cram knowledge into the heads of pupils. Knowledge is undeniably important, but what good is it if we don’t put it to use? We do labs in science classes, research projects in history, and write stories in English class. Theoretically, we should grow up and apply these skills to improving the world. The material we learn in the classroom is significantly less important outside the academic world. What, then, does our education consist of? We are educated every moment of our lives by the experiences we live through. This includes, but is not limited to, our time spent inside classrooms and lecture halls. Our time spent just living, doing things we love, and making mistakes is just as essential to our complete education. At PA these two concepts of schooling and education meet inside classes, but uniquely, outside the classroom as well, in the form of clubs and student run organizations. As the club rally proved, there are an abundance of clubs at PA specializing in everything from music to debate to barbequing. These clubs meet on their own schedules and require varying amounts of time and commitment from their participants. These student-run clubs, combining schooling, education and recreation in a matchless and priceless are some of the most valuable tools PA offers its students. Many of these clubs have academic aspects to them. There are political clubs, literary magazines and health and nutrition groups. Unlike the academics of the classroom though, students choose to partake in clubs based on genuine interest in the topic, and are responsible for educating each other. The educational aspect of these clubs though is the most beneficial one. Involvement with clubs teaches students about an important real life lesson: people. Students working together to achieve common goals create more teamwork and peer cooperation than exists in classrooms. Clubs have some type of power structure, and working within it highlights aspects of people’s personalities that remain concealed during the school day. Within this structure we see those who exert as much power as they can possibly grasp, those who are a little flaky, those who want to get things done, those who just want to have a good time, and many more. Particular aspects of people are in more competitive clubs during the board application process. While people do sometimes apply for board positions to beef up their college apps, they are sure to learn a lot about themselves and about those around them once having acquired a position. Some of our classmates will do spectacular things and will achieve success based on their knowledge and personal achievement alone. But, most of us will have to live in the real world where our success depends highly on our ability to forge relationships and work with other people. Education comes from experience and clubs become the perfect way to experience people. When Pink Floyd sang the enduring lyric “we don’t need no education” they were undoubtedly referring to schooling. Classes are a beneficial part of the overall learning experience, but what we learn outside the classroom can almost always have a greater impact. Participating in clubs, sports teams, and other student activities gives students opportunities to combine learning and interaction. When students take it upon themselves to commit to a club or orginization, they can learn the lasting lessons of voluntary responsibility and selfless cooperation. The hours we spend in various board and club meetings are some of the most valuable we spend at Phillips Academy.