CAS: Fun or Forced?

Opinion by: Tanvi A.

Edited by: Kody T.

Visual by: Kaye O.

As a senior, I can honestly say that I have experienced all of high school by this point – the small stress-induced breakdowns, waiting in lines to print in the library, and  best of all – Mr. Dickinson’s Christmas performances. However, one thing that prominently encapsulates the past four years of my high school career has been my involvement in extracurricular activities.

Ever since freshman year, I’ve made an effort to be a part of diverse clubs and councils to build my leadership skills, but I was always surrounded by people criticizing the primary reasoning of these activities of whether they are encouraged for fun or simply forced due to the IB (International Baccalaureate)’s requirements. The IB, within their core curriculum of demanding academic work, require all diploma students to achieve “experiences” within each category of CAS (Creativity, Activity, and Service). By doing so, the IB claims that students get a chance to “enhance their personal and impersonal development” by taking part outside of their class.

Within the ISM community, there have been many speculations regarding CAS, and the ways in which it embodies the nature of being fun yet also feels forced – a simple ‘check’ on ManageBac to fulfil an IB graded requirement. By linking CAS to ManageBac and ensuring that every activity is coupled with specific learning outcomes and reflections, students find that the meticulosity of CAS takes away from the actual experiences. Senior Ursula R. says that, “it isn’t the activities necessarily, but the reflections that must be completed” that make the process of CAS more tedious. Though these reflections are crucial in showcasing a student’s true engagement with an activity, many state that they do certain activities just to get the CAS experiences and fulfill their IB diploma requirements.

However, although many people find completing activities and reflecting on their actions chore-like, I personally find comfort in knowing that I get to be involved in a range of different activities outside of my classroom setting and build myself as an individual. This, for me, takes away the precision needed to write the reflections, and helps me enjoy myself in whatever I’m doing, truly making CAS more fun and less of an errand. Senior Ursula R. agrees, saying, “ISM provides a lot of opportunities for people to get involved, so completing the activities within CAS doesn’t feel extremely daunting.” Senior Andrea L. adds that, “CAS encourages students to explore activities outside of their comfort zone,” which can potentially lead to character-development, equipping us with leadership, communication and team-building skills for our future betterment.  

So although these criticisms of conducting an activity for the sake of requirements often overshadows an individual’s true passion for involvement in certain extra-curriculars, I believe that it is truly up to an individual to extract enjoyable and memorable experiences from the things they become a part of. If the “in depth reflection” requirement of ManageBac seems daunting, you should reflect back on your favourite memory of the activity, and include more fun and exciting anecdotes as evidence. By doing this, the forced element of the reflection will be taken away!