It is one of those homier, more local sorts of things, which has its good and bad aspects. For example, it has a long application form that was probably invented ages ago and which I recall thinking could do with some simplification. It definitely takes a more personal interest in the applicant's life than does, say, FLAS.
This has led us to an interesting discussion, as the form has a space for one's hobbies.
While I may have sighed at having to fill in yet another blank on the form, being asked about my hobbies in this context seemed quite innocuous and merely an indicator that I was applying for a local rather than national award. After all, somewhere along the line they also want to know the grantee's hometown paper so that a press release can be sent. That struck me as both thoughtful and extremely old-fashioned. (Where that I have lived would consider itself interested in such news? Do I have a hometown? Does the San Francisco Chronicle or the Washington Post have a place for these things?) Well, if one does come from a small town, I'm sure it is very nice to have the award mentioned in the local paper.
I was not, however, offended about the hobbies. I suppose I put in my usual sorts of things, like knitting and gardening.
Kristen sees this differently. She finds inquiry about hobbies to be inappropriate.
Somewhat surprised, I said that it is normal to have a line for hobbies on resumes, so why not on this?
Kristen assured me that she has never heard of anyone putting hobbies on a resume, unless, possibly, one is straight out of school and has nothing else to include.
I was intrigued. I learned how to do resumes from books on resume-writing, and this was just one of those things you included, although you might call it Leisure Activities or some such thing if you wanted to look excessively high-brow.
Perhaps job applicants are no longer taught to include their hobbies. It's true that the academic CV does not include these, but then it doesn't include very many of the things I used to include on resumes. I do not, for example, list the software programs I have learned on my CV, nor do I put my typing speed.
I am curious what others think on this burning issue of hobbies. Is it an invasion of privacy to ask about hobbies? It does seem to me that one has complete freedom to put only those hobbies that might look good to the reader; if blowing up mailboxes with home-made explosives is one's hobby, this is better concealed from the general public. On the other hand, the very notion of a hobby suggests that it is not socially disruptive. While we may pursue our hobbies to the point of obsession, a hobby is generally envisioned as agreeable and socially acceptable. This is why we list things like knitting, sewing, stamp collecting, gardening, building model railroads, swimming, and backpacking. Pursuits like going to Star Trek conventions, constructing and selling transgender Barbies, and target shooting may qualify as hobbies, but don't usually go on the resume; they aren't quite cozy enough. Throwing weekly swinger parties in your home dungeon is probably not even a hobby, though it is definitely an Interest.
It occurs to me that the concept of hobbies is both historically situated and class-related. Hobbies (formerly more often referred to as hobby-horses) go back at least a couple hundred years. Leisure and some amount of cash is required to have a hobby, so it is not something open to the lumpenproletariat. Knitting is not a hobby if it is part of one's survival. Gardening is not a hobby if it is obligatory.
I have occasionally heard that children today no longer have hobbies. Supposedly they spend all their time watching TV, surfing the internet, and in some cases playing sports. Since the children I know are rather atypical, I am not going to use them to build a case one way or the other. (I will say, however, that six-year-old Molly seemed as excited about owning a sewing box as she was about singing, dancing, and learning to read. I don't think this child is short on hobbies of any sort.)
Class-wise, adult hobbies now seem regarded as, perhaps, the province of the working class and the lower middle class. I may be wrong on this, but I think the intellectual class prefers to have "interests" while the moneyed class does I know not what. The activities involved may not be all that different, but the perception probably is.
As for me, I have countless hobbies, I just don't have a lot of time to pursue them.