In an earlier post, I suggested that any student could impress his/her teacher by simply doing something (anything!) that was not assigned or required. Even just ask a good question! It’s mildly depressing that this is true – because almost no one does it. It’s really easy to stand out from the crowd by doing the simplest thing that no one has told you to do, thereby demonstrating the energy, inquisitiveness, and general moxie that the system has long since squeezed out of everyone. Yes, yes, I know, everyone has too much to do, barely enough time to do what’s assigned, let alone extra stuff. But the bar is really low here – all you have to do at minimum is do one thing not assigned all semester. Too much? Get your email twice a day (instead of 12 times an hour), cut down on web surfing, viral funny cat videos, and various incarnations of twitterface and anyone should have enough time to get started. The problem is not so much as a lack of time as it is a dearth of curiosity about stuff and capacity to entertain “failure” as the natural byproduct of exploration and trying out stuff to see what happens.